Parents and clinicians report that sleep problems affect 25% to
50% of children and adolescents with attention deficit
hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). The most typical problems include
bedtime resistance and difficulty falling asleep.
Studies using objective measures of sleep quality have produced
inconsistent results, however. For example, studies using an
actigraph, a lightweight monitor that people can use at home, have
found that sleep in youths with ADHD is similar to that of other
youths when it comes to parameters such as sleep onset, duration,
and quality. At the same time, actigraph studies suggest that
youths with ADHD are more active during the night (assessed by
frequency and duration of movements), and they show greater
variability in sleep patterns from one night to the next —
suggesting unstable regulation of sleep and arousal.
The symptoms of ADHD and sleeping problems often overlap, making it
difficult to differentiate the two. For this reason, it's important
to rule out sleep problems before confirming a diagnosis of ADHD.
At the same time, sleep disorders can exacerbate symptoms of ADHD —
and vice versa — presenting a challenge to both parents and
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