Study: ADHD Sleep Issues Improved by Behavioral Intervention
Behavioral interventions, including parental education, are effective at reducing ADHD-related sleep issues in children, a recent study found.
July 11, 2022
Behavioral interventions like healthy sleep hygiene, calming visualization, and reliable sleep and wake times are effective at improving ADHD-related sleep issues in children, according to a meta-analysis published in the Journal of Attention Disorders1. Though the study does not recommend specific interventions, its findings are a promising addition to a growing body of research surrounding behavioral interventions for correcting sleep difficulties.
The researchers’ analyses, which considered 11 studies, focused on children between the ages of 5 and 15 diagnosed with ADHD who had at least one sleep problem and received some form of behavioral sleep intervention. Interventions included educating parents on sleep hygiene, establishing a proper sleep environment, and setting proper wake and sleep time, as well as using positive reinforcement, bedtime fading, and calming visualization for the children involved in the study.
Though researchers found that individualized interventions that targeted the child’s specific sleep difficulty proved more effective and time-efficient than did standardized approaches. In all studies analyzed, behavioral interventions led to positive effects on sleep quality.
The study suffered from a marked gender imbalance: male participants far outnumbered their female counterparts. Knowing that ADHD can affect girls differently, the lack of gender balance raises concerns over the generalizability of the results. The study authors recommend further research to better understand effective interventions and how other factors such as medication or comorbid conditions may affect intervention results.
1Malkani, M. K., Pestell, C. F., Sheridan, A. M. C., Crichton, A. J., Horsburgh, G. C., & Bucks, R. S. (2022). Behavioral Sleep Interventions for Children With ADHD: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. Journal of Attention Disorders. https://doi.org/10.1177/10870547221106239