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Sleep Deficits Could Trigger ADHD

A provocative new Finnish study suggests that children’s short sleep duration even without sleeping difficulties increases the risk for behavioral symptoms of ADHD.

During the recent decades, sleep duration has decreased in many countries; in the United States a third of children are estimated to suffer from inadequate sleep.

It has been hypothesized that sleep deprivation may manifest in children as behavioral symptoms rather than as tiredness, but few studies have investigated this hypothesis.

The researchers at the University of Helsinki and National Institute of Health and Welfare, Finland, examined whether decreased sleep leads to behavioral problems similar to those exhibited by children with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

280 healthy children (146 girls and 134 boys) participated in the study. The researchers tracked the children’s sleep using parental reporting as well as actigraphs, or devices worn on the wrist to monitor sleep.

The children whose average sleep duration as measured by actigraphs was shorter than 7.7 hours had a higher hyperactivity and impulsivity score and a higher ADHD total score, but similar inattention score than those sleeping for a longer time.

In multivariate statistical models, short sleep duration remained a statistically significant predictor of hyperactivity and impulsivity, and sleeping difficulties were associated with hyperactivity, impulsivity and inattention. There were no significant interactions between short sleep and sleeping difficulties.

“We were able to show that short sleep duration and sleeping difficulties are related to behavioral symptoms of ADHD, and we also showed that short sleep, per se, increases behavioral symptoms, regardless of the presence of sleeping difficulties”, says researcher Juulia Paavonen, MD, PhD.

“The findings suggest that maintaining adequate sleep schedules among children is likely to be important in preventing behavioral symptoms. However, even though inadequate sleep seems to owe potential to impair behavior and performance, intervention studies are needed to confirm the causality,” Paavonen continues.

Source: University of Helsinki

Sleep Deficits Could Trigger ADHD

Rick Nauert PhD

Rick Nauert, PhDDr. Rick Nauert has over 25 years experience in clinical, administrative and academic healthcare. He is currently an associate professor for Rocky Mountain University of Health Professionals doctoral program in health promotion and wellness. Dr. Nauert began his career as a clinical physical therapist and served as a regional manager for a publicly traded multidisciplinary rehabilitation agency for 12 years. He has masters degrees in health-fitness management and healthcare administration and a doctoral degree from The University of Texas at Austin focused on health care informatics, health administration, health education and health policy. His research efforts included the area of telehealth with a specialty in disease management.

APA Reference
Nauert PhD, R. (2015). Sleep Deficits Could Trigger ADHD. Psych Central. Retrieved on May 23, 2018, from https://psychcentral.com/news/2009/04/28/sleep-deficits-could-trigger-adhd/5557.html

 

Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 6 Oct 2015
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 6 Oct 2015
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