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Kids With ADHD Have More Trouble Getting Deep Sleep: Study

6 May 2016, 8:40 am EDT By Alyssa Navarro Tech Times
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At least 70 percent of parents of kids with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) claim that their young ones have more difficulty getting deep sleep than other children, researchers say.

A new report by experts at Aarhus University in Denmark provides concrete evidence to this figure, revealing that parents do find it difficult to put their kids to bed and that kids with ADHD have trouble sleeping.

Differences In Sleep Quality And Sleep Duration

Researchers say previous scientific studies that measure sleep quality via electrodes have failed to find a link between sleep quality and ADHD, but their findings confirm what most parents have experienced.

The team examined the difference of sleep duration and sleep patterns among 76 ADHD kids and 25 ADHD-free kids. The average age of kids who participated in the study was 9.6 years.

Both groups were attached with electrodes in their heads for a method called polysomnography, which took place at the hospital during the afternoon. The kids in both groups slept in their home at night.

The data revealed that kids with ADHD experience more disturbed sleep plus less deep sleep than the control group. Lead study author Anne Virring Sørensen says kids in the ADHD group sleep 45 minutes less compared to the other group.

Sleeping During Daytime

Aside from ADHD, two out of three kids with the disorder also had one or more psychiatric diagnoses, which researchers say possibly boosts the risk of sleep disturbance.

When Sørensen and her colleagues looked at the children who were diagnosed with only ADHD, they saw a huge difference in the sleep patterns of youngsters with ADHD and the control group.

Sørensen says kids with ADHD were more likely to fall asleep faster during daytime unlike in the evening. She says this finding is surprising especially given the fact that ADHD is associated with hyperactivity. In such case, hyperactivity could be a compensatory behavior for not being able to sleep during the day.

Additionally, the fact that past studies have not found a correlation between sleep quality and ADHD could be due to the differences in measuring methods, researchers say.

The difference is that in past research, kids were admitted to sleep centers - a place they were not familiar with - to measure sleep using polysomnography.

Previous research has also suggested that taking stimulant medications for kids with ADHD may cause sleep disorders such as shorter sleep periods, difficulty falling asleep, and poor sleep quality.

However, Sørensen emphasized that none of the kids in the study - whether or not diagnosed with ADHD - were taking medications while taking part in the research.

Sørensen and her colleagues' research, which is featured in the Journal of Sleep Research, is important as it could help experts develop better long-term treatments for ADHD.

"Our survey is an important foundation for further studies," adds Sørensen.

Photo: Matt Preston | Flickr

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