Sleep and AHDH

Targeting sleep and anxiety problems in children with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) may improve their symptoms and outcomes, a psychology expert told the APS Congress, held in Melbourne, 13-16 September 2016.

Dr Emma Sciberras, a clinical psychologist senior lecturer in psychology at Deakin University and honorary research fellow at the Murdoch Childrens Research Institute (MCRI), says psychological strategies to treat sleep and anxiety problems are being trialled to see if they improve ADHD symptoms, such as inattention, hyperactivity and impulsivity, while boosting children’s daily functioning and their overall quality of life.

ADHD is a common neurodevelopmental disorder, affecting about 300,000 young people in Australia. Research shows anxiety affects up to 64% of children with ADHD while sleep difficulties affect up to 70% of children with ADHD but the two common problems are often not identified.

“Behavioural interventions might be tried first if symptoms are mild and not causing too much of a problem. We do know that if symptoms are extreme that stimulant medication can be considered too, which can help to manage the main symptoms of ADHD,” she says.