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Free Content No objectively measured sleep disturbances in children with attention‐deficit/hyperactivity disorder

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The main goal of this study was to gain more insight into sleep disturbances in children with attention‐deficit/hyperactivity disorder, using objective measures of sleep quality and quantity. The evidence for sleep problems in children with attention‐deficit/hyperactivity disorder thus far is inconsistent, which might be explained by confounding influences of comorbid internalizing and externalizing problems and low socio‐economic status. We therefore investigated the mediating and moderating role of these factors in the association between attention‐deficit/hyperactivity disorder and sleep problems. To control for the effects of stimulant medication use, all participants were tested free of medication. Sixty‐three children with attention‐deficit/hyperactivity disorder and 61 typically developing children, aged 6–13¬†years, participated. Sleep was monitored for one to three school nights using actigraphy. Parent and teacher questionnaires assessed symptoms of attention‐deficit/hyperactivity disorder, internalizing behaviour, oppositional defiant disorder and conduct disorder. Results showed no differences between the attention‐deficit/hyperactivity disorder and typically developing group in any sleep parameter. Within the attention‐deficit/hyperactivity disorder group, severity of attention‐deficit/hyperactivity disorder symptoms was not related to sleep quality or quantity. Moderation analyses in the attention‐deficit/hyperactivity disorder group showed an interaction effect between attention‐deficit/hyperactivity disorder symptoms and internalizing and externalizing behaviour on total sleep time, time in bed and average sleep bout duration. The results of our study suggest that having attention‐deficit/hyperactivity disorder is not a risk factor for sleep problems. Internalizing and externalizing behaviour moderate the association between attention‐deficit/hyperactivity disorder and sleep, indicating a complex interplay between psychiatric symptoms and sleep.
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Keywords: actiwatch; childhood; methylphenidate; sleep latency

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: October 1, 2016

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