According to research presented at SLEEP 2011 in Minneapolis, sleep loss during early childhood may contribute later to the development or worsening of hyperactivity and inattention characteristic of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
The scientists, led by Dr. Erika Gaylor, found that shorter sleep duration in preschool-age children was correlated with worsened behaviors in kindergarten. Conversely, hyperactivity and inattention in preschool did not seem to predict sleep duration later. The study examined some 6,860 children.
This research adds to the growing body of literature linking ADHD and sleep. There is a complex relationship, and some children who manifest with ADHD symptoms and behavioral problems may instead have an undiagnosed sleep disorder.