The ability of children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) to remain vigilant and attentive deteriorated significantly after losing less than one hour of nightly sleep for a week, according to a new study.
It suggested that such disruptions could have a negative impact on their academic performance.
After mean nightly sleep loss of about 55 minutes for six nights, the performance of children with ADHD on a neurobehavioral test deteriorated from the subclinical range to the clinical range of inattention on four of six measures, including omission errors and reaction time.
Children with ADHD generally committed more omission errors than controls.
“Moderate sleep restriction leads to a detectable negative impact on the neurobehavioral functioning of children with ADHD and healthy controls, leading to a clinical level of impairment in children with ADHD,” said lead author and principal investigator Reut Gruber, assistant professor in the department of psychiatry at McGill University and director of the Attention, Behavior and Sleep Laboratory at Douglas Mental Health University Institute in Montreal, Quebec.
Although the performance of children in the control group also deteriorated after mean nightly sleep loss of 34 minutes for six nights, it did not reach a clinical level of inattention on any of the six measures.
The study involved 43 children, 11 with ADHD and 32 controls. They had a mean age of about 9 years. After monitoring the subjects’ baseline sleep for six nights, the researchers asked the children to eliminate one hour of nightly sleep for six consecutive nights by going to bed later than usual.
“The reduction in sleep duration in our study was modest and similar to the sleep deprivation that might occur in daily life,” said Gruber.
“Thus, even small changes in dinner time, computer time, or staying up to do homework could result in poorer neurobehavioral functioning the following day and affect sustained attention and vigilance, which are essential for optimal academic performance,” she added.
The study appears in the March 1 issue of the journal Sleep. (ANI)