Can Sleep Help ADHD Behaviors?

In recent years much has been made of the importance of sleep to the health and well-being of school-age kids. But a new study, focusing solely on teens with ADHD, makes it clear that for these kids a good night’s sleep is crucial for managing many of the negative behaviors associated with the condition.

According to an article in HealthDay, researchers looked at teens with ADHD who spent one week getting 6.5 hours of sleep per night and the next week getting 9.5 hours of sleep per night.

After each of those weeks, the researchers assessed the teens for working memory, planning and organization, emotional control, initiation and inhibition. All of those areas showed significant declines after the sleep-restriction week, compared with the week when the teens were allowed more shuteye.

This study is thought to be the first to focus on the specific impacts that sleep may have on teens with ADHD.

Clear Message

In a news release, the researchers left no doubt as to their conclusion about the benefits of an appropriate amount of sleep for teens with ADHD, stating unequivocally, “Increased sleep may significantly [and positively] impact academic, social and emotional functioning in adolescents with ADHD, and sleep may be an important future target for future intervention.”

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that teens (ages 13 to 18) get 8 to 10 hours of sleep nightly for optimal health—a standard that the majority of teens fall well short of.

To help ensure that your child develops a healthy sleep pattern, the National Sleep Foundation offers the following suggestions:

  • Keep the room cool, quiet, and dark
  • Avoid caffeine close to bedtime
  • Avoid eating, drinking, exercise within a few hours of bedtime
  • Establish a bed-time/wake-time, and stick to it
  • Avoid TV, computer, or cell phone the hour before bedtime