Author(s): Bullock GL, Schall U
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Abstract OBJECTIVE: Studies prior to 1999 reported prevalent sleep disturbances in children diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). However, these reports were largely inconclusive and inconsistent in their findings, hence the current review based on studies published thereafter. METHOD: An online research of the National Library of Medicine and the Cochrane Library was conducted using the terms 'attention deficit hyperactivity disorder', 'sleep', 'human', and 'English language'. RESULTS: Sixteen articles met the search criteria with 10 reporting objective measures of sleep characteristics (i.e. polysomnography, actigraphy, and/or video recording). These studies confirm an increase of rapid eye movement (REM) sleep latency and a proportional decrease of REM sleep in children diagnosed with ADHD. Stimulant treatment appears to have little effect on sleep quality while parent's reports of poor sleep in their ADHD-diagnosed offspring was largely inconsistent with the objective measures. CONCLUSIONS: The review demonstrated a link between disturbances in sleep architecture and ADHD. Whether this is of an intrinsic or extrinsic cause remains debateable, as both behavioural (parental reporting) and physiological (objective differences in sleep architecture) factors are indicated. The effect of stimulant medication on sleep also requires further research, as current evidence is limited by study design.
This article was published in Aust N Z J Psychiatry
and referenced in Journal of Child and Adolescent Behavior