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ADHD

Updated 12 April 2019

Here's a must for teens with ADHD: Get a good night's sleep

A new study has revealed that teenagers with ADHD need a good night's sleep – subjects showed significant declines in working memory, planning and organisation, emotional control, initiation and inhibition when they slept for only 6.5 hours a night.

Teenagers tend to shortchange themselves on sleep, but when they have attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), that can really hamper their thinking skills, researchers say.

The new study included teen volunteers with ADHD who spent a week in which their sleep was restricted to 6.5 hours per night. That was followed by a week in which they were allowed to sleep up to 9.5 hours each night.

After each of those weeks, the researchers assessed the teens for working memory, planning and organisation, 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, the study findings showed.

Chaya Fershtman, a research assistant at Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center, was scheduled to present the findings Monday at the American Physiological Society's annual meeting, in Orlando, Florida. Research presented at meetings should be considered preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed journal.

"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 researchers said in a meeting news release.

The findings are believed to be the first of their kind in young people with ADHD.

ADHD is one of the most common mental disorders among children and teens, and it often causes problems with focus, attention and time management.

Executive function problems in children and teens may interfere with school performance, social skills and emotional development.

Previous research has found that a lack of sleep contributes to poorer executive functioning in typically developing teens, but teens with ADHD had not been studied.

Image credit: iStock

 

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Dr Renata Schoeman has been in full-time private practice as a general psychiatrist (child, adolescent and adult psychiatry) since 2008, currently based in Oude Westhof (Bellville). Renata also holds appointments as senior lecturer in Leadership (USB) and as a virtual faculty member of USB Executive Development’s Neuroleadership programme. She serves on the advisory boards of various pharmaceutical companies, as a director of the Psychiatric Management Group (PsychMG) and is the co-convenor of the South African Society of Psychiatrist (SASOP) special interest group for adult ADHD, and co-founder of the Goldilocks and The Bear Foundation (www.gb4adhd.co.za) She is passionate about corporate mental health awareness and uses her neuroscience background to assist leaders in equipping them to become balanced, healthy and dynamic leaders that take their own and their team’s emotional, intellectual, social health and physical needs into account. Renata is academically active and enjoys research and collaborative work, has published in many peer-reviewed journals, and has presented at local and international congresses. She is regularly invited to present at conferences and to engage with the media. During her post-graduate studies, she trained at Harvard, Boston in neurocognition and neuroimaging. Her awards include, amongst others, the Young Minds in Psychiatry award from the American Psychiatric Association, the Discovery Foundation Fellowship award, a Thuthuka award from the NRF, and a MRC Fellowship. She also received the Top MBA student award and the Director’s award from USB for 2015. She was a finalist for the Businesswomen’s Association of South Africa’s Businesswoman of the Year Award for 2016, and received the Excellence in Media Work award from SASOP during 2016.

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