Sleep Problems in Children With Attention‐Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder: Impact of Subtype, Comorbidity, and Stimulant Medication

Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, University of Toronto, Canada.
Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry (Impact Factor: 7.26). 11/1999; 38(10):1285-93. DOI: 10.1097/00004583-199910000-00018
Source: PubMed


To determine the relationship of sleep problems to attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), diagnostic subtype, comorbid disorders, and the effects of stimulant treatment.
On the basis of clinical diagnostic interviews, children aged 6 to 12 years were assigned to 4 groups: unmedicated ADHD (n = 79), medicated ADHD (n = 22), clinical comparison (n = 35), and healthy nonclinical comparison (n = 36). These groups were compared on 2 sleep questionnaires completed by the parents that assessed current sleep problems and factors associated with sleep difficulties (i.e., sleep routines, sleep practices, child and family sleep history).
Factor analysis revealed 3 sleep problem categories: dyssomnias, parasomnias, and sleep-related involuntary movements. Linear regression analyses showed that (1) dyssomnias were related to confounding factors (i.e., comorbid oppositional defiant disorder and stimulant medication) rather than ADHD; (2) parasomnias were similar in clinical and nonclinical children; and (3) the DSM-IV combined subtype of ADHD was associated with sleep-related involuntary movements. However, sleep-related involuntary movements were more highly associated with separation anxiety.
The results suggest that the relationship between sleep problems and ADHD is complex and depends on the type of sleep problem assessed as well as confounding factors such as comorbid clinical disorders and treatment with stimulant medication.

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    • "Based on parent and child reports at least one type of sleep-related problem, including delayed sleep onset, frequent nighttime awakenings, nightmares, and/or bedtime resistance, affects nearly all (i.e., 90 %) children diagnosed with generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) (Alfano et al. 2006; Alfano et al. 2007; Alfano et al. 2010; Chase and Pincus 2011; Hudson et al. 2009; Reynolds and Alfano 2015). Even among children with other primary forms of psychopathology, the presence of comorbid anxiety is uniquely linked with sleep complaints (Corkum et al. 1999; Mick et al. 2000). Such problems appear to contribute to overall symptom severity and day-to-day impairment experienced by anxious youth (Alfano et al. 2007, 2010; Chase and Pincus 2011). "
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