Lack of Sleep May Contribute to ADHD

Filed under: In The News, Special Needs, Sleep


lack of sleep ADHD

Researchers found that preschoolers who don't get enough sleep often develop attention problems. Credit: Getty Images

Lack of sleep can cause ... uh ...

It can cause something. What was it? This is silly. There was just a story about it somewhere. Think!

Oh, right! It can cause attention deficit disorder.

According to a press release on ScienceDaily.com, researchers found preschoolers who don't get enough sleep often develop attention problems and hyperactivity once they hit kindergarten. Strangely, the reverse was not true.

Kids who already had attention problems in preschool didn't lose any sleep over it in kindergarten.

Researchers for SRI International, a nonprofit research institute in Menlo Park, Calif., looked at the sleep habits of 6,860 children -- compensating for such factors as gender, ethnicity and family income.

"Children who were reported to sleep less in preschool were rated by their parents as more hyperactive and less attentive compared to their peers at kindergarten," lead researcher Erika Gaylor says in the release. "These findings suggest that some children who are not getting adequate sleep may be at risk for developing behavioral problems manifested by hyperactivity, impulsivity, and problems sitting still and paying attention."

Gaylor adds that attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (or ADHD) is not usually diagnosed until kids start going to school. However, symptoms can crop up much earlier.

Sleep problems such as trouble falling asleep and staying asleep could be warning signs. Gaylor says a direct link has been hard to establish, and more long-term studies are needed.

According to Gaylor, having a regular, early bedtime was the single biggest sleep-related factor in avoiding attention problems.

So Benjamin Franklin was right. "Early to bed and early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise." It also helps him pay attention in preschool.

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Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.