ADHD News & Research

Study: Sleep Problems in Children with ADHD Linked to Poor Maternal Mental Health

Sleep problems in children with ADHD predict maternal anxiety and related mental health challenges in the long term, according to a one-year study involving 379 children.

August 12, 2021

Sleep problems in children with ADHD contribute to long-term mental health challenges, including anxiety, for their mothers, according to an Australian study recently published in the Journal of Attention Disorders.1

The year-long study asked female caregivers of 379 children with ADHD to report on their child’s sleep patterns and their own mental health at three points — at the beginning of the study, 6 months later, and during the last month of the study. The children were between 5 and 13 years old, and researchers controlled for child age, sex, ADHD symptom severity, medication use, comorbidities, caregiver age, and socioeconomic advantage in the study.

Findings show that, while child sleep problems and maternal mental health difficulties were stable across the study period, sleep problems at the 6-month point predicted overall maternal mental health difficulties and maternal anxiety at 12 months. Sleep problems at 6 months, however, did not predict maternal depression or stress at 12 months.

Given that children with ADHD experience more sleep problems than do their non-ADHD peers2, the study raises awareness around related mental health difficulties for caregivers. The authors suggest that interventions to improve sleep in these children may improve maternal mental health over time.

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1Martin, C. A., Mulraney, M., Papadopoulos, N., Rinehart, N. J., & Sciberras, E. (2021). Bidirectional Associations Between Maternal Mental Health and Child Sleep Problems in Children With ADHD: A Longitudinal Study. Journal of Attention Disorders, 25(11), 1603–1604.

2Gruber, R., Xi, T., Frenette, S., Robert, M., Vannasinh, P., & Carrier, J. (2009). Sleep disturbances in prepubertal children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder: a home polysomnography study. Sleep, 32(3), 343–350.