ADHD Children Sleep Less and More Poorly
Parents of ADHD children have claimed for years that their children have more trouble falling and staying asleep and have poorer quality sleep than other children. A study out of Aarhus University has found that there is some truth behind this claim.
Recent studies have reported that approximately 70% of parents with ADHD children state that their child has a hard time falling and staying asleep and that their pre-bedtime routines take a long time. Unfortunately, however, many science-based studies using electrodes to measure sleep quality have not been able to link ADHD and sleep quality. This new Danish study gives some merit to these parental concerns and shows that children with ADHD do sleep worse than other children their age.
Behind the study is lead researcher, Anne Virring Sorensen, a medical doctor at the Child and Adolescent Psychiatric Hospital in Risskov. She reported that their study validates their experience, which is that their child with ADHD takes longer to get to bed and fall asleep. With the measurements used in this study, researchers have seen also that these children have disruptive sleep, especially deep sleep. Only looking at the length of sleep will tell you that children with ADHD sleep an average of 45 minutes less than other children; however, it is the quality of sleep that is most concerning, researchers state.
It is reported that two out of three children diagnosed with ADHD have at least one additional psychiatric condition, which in all likelihood increases the risks of poor sleep quality. However, even when scientists look only at those with an ADHD diagnosis, they find that there is still a big difference in the patterns compared to children in the control group without a diagnosis.
In this Danish study, researchers also reviewed the daytime sleep patterns, and the findings were surprising.
They found that children with ADHD were able to fall asleep more quickly during the day than at night. This is so surprising because one of the primary characteristics of ADHD is hyperactivity; however, researchers note that this hyperactivity may be compensatory for the inability to sleep during the day.
Researchers were unable to find a correlation between poor sleep quality and ADHD in the past may be due to the different methods of measurement. In this study, electrodes were attached to the children for polysomnography readings during an afternoon at the hospital. However, they still slept in familiar home surroundings. Previously, children were admitted to sleep centers in a hospital overnight to get a sleep study performed.
Anne Virring Sorensen makes it clear in her findings that the children in this study received no medication to help them fall asleep. This is a major concern because many ADHD children are given medication at night to help them sleep.
However many hundreds of parents with ADHD children have opted for a starry night sky ceiling mural in the child’s bedroom which has helped many gain a more relaxing sleep and reduced bedtime drama.