Public Release: 

More sleep may help teens with ADHD focus and organize

Study is first to find executive functioning skills deteriorate with lack of sleep

American Physiological Society

Orlando, Fla. (April 8, 2019)--Teenagers with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) may benefit from more sleep to help them focus, plan and control their emotions. The findings--the first of their kind in young people with ADHD--will be presented today at the American Physiological Society's (APS) annual meeting at Experimental Biology 2019 in Orlando, Fla.

ADHD is one of the most common neurobehavioral disorders among children and adolescents. People with ADHD often have trouble with executive function, which are skills that contribute to being able to focus, pay attention and manage time. Executive function challenges in young people may interfere with academic performance, social skills and emotional development. Previous research has found that a lack of sleep contributes to poorer executive functioning in typically developing adolescents, but teens with ADHD have not been studied.

Researchers from Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center measured executive function in adolescent volunteers with ADHD after two separate sleep trials. The volunteers spent a week in which their sleep was restricted to six and a half hours per night, followed by a week in which they were allowed to sleep up to nine and a half hours each night. After each trial, the research team administered the Behavior Rating Inventory of Executive Function, Second Edition (BRIEF2), a widely used measure of executive function in children up to age 18. The BRIEF2 assesses executive function areas such as working memory, planning and organization, emotional control, initiation and inhibition.

The tests showed significant deficits in all of the assessed areas following the sleep-restriction week as compared to the sleep-extension week. "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 wrote.

Chaya Fershtman, a research assistant at Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center, will present the poster "Sleep restriction worsens daily life executive functioning in adolescents with ADHD" on Monday, April 8, in the Exhibit Hall-West of the Orlando County Convention Center.

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NOTE TO JOURNALISTS: To schedule an interview with a member of the research team, please contact the APS Communications Office or 301-634-7209. Find more research highlights in the APS Press Room.

About Experimental Biology 2019

Experimental Biology is an annual meeting comprised of more than 14,000 scientists and exhibitors from five sponsoring societies and multiple guest societies. With a mission to share the newest scientific concepts and research findings shaping clinical advances, the meeting offers an unparalleled opportunity for exchange among scientists from across the United States and the world who represent dozens of scientific areas, from laboratory to translational to clinical research.

Physiology is the study of how molecules, cells, tissues and organs function in health and disease. Established in 1887, the American Physiological Society (APS) was the first U.S. society in the biomedical sciences field. The Society represents more than 10,000 members and publishes 15 peer-reviewed journals with a worldwide readership.

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