(Natural News) Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a neurobehavioral disorder among children and teens. People with this condition have difficulty with executive function or exhibit inattention, hyperactivity and impulsivity that interfere with their functioning or development. In their study, researchers from Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center suggest that teens get enough sleep to help them focus, plan and control their emotions better.
Young people who have trouble with executive function often have problems with their academic performance, social skills and emotional development. While previous research has shown that a lack of sleep contributes to poor executive functioning in teens, adolescents with ADHD have not been studied.
For this reason, the researchers measured executive function in teen volunteers with ADHD after two separate sleep trials. The participants spent a week in which their sleep was limited to six-and-a-half hours each night. After that, they spent another week in which they could sleep up to nine-and-a-half hours per night.
After each trial, the researchers administered the Behavior Rating Inventory of Executive Function, Second Edition (BRIEF2), a widely used measure of executive function in children up to age 18. The BRIEF2 measures executive function areas such as emotional control, initiation, inhibition, planning and organization, and working memory.
The research team found that a shorter period of sleep resulted in significant deficits in all the assessed areas compared to the longer sleep duration. The researchers explained that sleeping for longer may significantly and positively affect the academic, social, and emotional functioning in teenagers with ADHD. In addition, they wrote that sleep might be a key future target for future intervention
The research team presented their findings at the American Physiological Society‘s annual meeting in Orlando, Florida.
More on sleep and ADHD
Teens need about eight to 10 hours of sleep each night to be at their best, but those with ADHD find it extra hard to get that amount consistently. Unfortunately, adolescents with ADHD tend to have sleep problems, with 30 to 75 percent of them not getting enough sleep. Teens with ADHD commonly encounter sleep problems such as short sleep time, difficulty falling asleep, and daytime sleepiness.
Generally, a lack of sleep can affect one’s mood, attention, and daily functioning. However, these consequences are magnified in teens with ADHD. Research in teens with ADHD also showed that sleep problems are linked to increases in depressive symptoms and oppositional behavior over time. In addition, daytime sleepiness has been associated with reduced academic performance.