[ Back to EurekAlert! ] Public release date: 1-May-2012
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Contact: Doug Dusik
ddusik@aasmnet.org
630-737-9700
American Academy of Sleep Medicine

Excessive sleepiness may be cause of learning, attention and school problems

Obesity, depression/anxiety, ADHD, asthma contribute to fatigue even after a good night’s sleep

DARIEN, IL – Children who have learning, attention and behavior problems may be suffering from excessive daytime sleepiness, even though clinical tests show them sleeping long enough at night, a new study reports.

Penn State researchers studied 508 children and found that those whose parents reported excessive daytime sleepiness (EDS) – despite little indication of short sleep from traditional measurements – were more likely to experience learning, attention/hyperactivity and conduct problems than children without EDS.

The culprits? Obesity, symptoms of inattention, depression and anxiety, asthma and parent-reported trouble falling asleep have been found to contribute to EDS even among children with no signs of diminished sleep time or sleep apnea.

"Impairment due to EDS in cognitive and behavioral functioning can have a serious impact on a child's development," said Susan Calhoun, PhD, the study's lead author. "When children are referred for neurobehavioral problems, they should be assessed for potential risk factors for EDS. Recognizing and treating EDS can offer new strategies to address some of the most common neurobehavioral challenges in young school-age children."

Calhoun said researchers were surprised that most of the children studied showed few signs of short sleep when tested, nor was short sleep associated with any of the learning, attention and behavior problems. She said parents and educators are good resources for determining if a child seems excessively sleepy in the daytime and the complaint should be taken seriously. Previous research found EDS prevalent in 15 percent of children from a general population sample.

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For a copy of the study, "Learning, Attention/Hyperactivity, and Conduct Problems as Sequelae of Excessive Daytime Sleepiness in a General Population Study of Young Children," or to arrange an interview with an AASM spokesperson, please contact PR Coordinator Doug Dusik at 630-737-9700, ext. 9364, or ddusik@aasmnet.org.

The monthly, peer-reviewed, scientific journal Sleep is published online by the Associated Professional Sleep Societies LLC, a joint venture of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine and the Sleep Research Society. The AASM is a professional membership society that is the leader in setting standards and promoting excellence in sleep medicine health care, education and research (www.aasmnet.org).

Read more about sleep disorders from the American Academy of Sleep Medicine on the Your Sleep website, http://yoursleep.aasmnet.org/Disorders.aspx. Help for people who have a sleep problem is available at more than 2,400 AASM-accredited sleep disorders centers around the United States.



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