Sleep loss in early childhood may contribute to the development of ADHD symptoms

Bedtime - cartoon

A study presented at Sleep 2011, the 25th Anniversary Meeting of the Associated Professional Sleep Societies LLC (APSS) shows that short sleep duration during early childhood may influence the development of hyperactivity and inattention. Attention deficit/hyperactivity disorders are not generally diagnosed until school age, even though the onset of developmentally inappropriate behaviour is much younger. Sleep problems are frequently reported in children and adolescents with ADHD, but the cause of development is currently unknown.

A sample of just under 7,000 children found that in pre-school aged children, sleep deprivation predicted worse parent-reported hyperactivity at kindergarten, but hyperactivity and inattention at pre-school did not predict sleep duration at kindergarten. The study used data from the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study – Birth Cohort, which included a contemporary, representative sample of children living in the US followed from birth to entry into kindergarten. Night time sleep duration was calculated using parental bedtimes and waking times, and parents rated their own children’s behaviour on brief measures of attention/task persistence and hyperactivity/impulsivity.

Last year at Sleep 2010 it was reported that a regular bedtime was the most consistent predictor of positive developmental outcomes at age 4, as was having an earlier bedtime.

Source: American Academy of Sleep Medicine

First published in June 2011

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