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ADHD Medications Make it Harder For Children to Sleep

11/23/2015
Experts disagree on whether commonly prescribed stimulant medications for attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) affect how well children sleep. Findings of a meta-analysis to be published in the December 2015 issue of Pediatrics (published online Nov. 23), however, suggest the medications may reduce the quantity and quality of sleep for many of the estimated 3.5 million U.S. kids taking ADHD medication. As described in “Stimulant Medications and Sleep for Youth with ADHD: A Meta-analysis,” researchers pooled and analyzed data from several previous studies that, individually, showed contradictory findings. Some concluded the stimulants cause insomnia, while others suggested the medications may improve sleep by reducing bedtime-resistant behavior. The new study determined that, overall, stimulant medications cause children to have more trouble falling and staying asleep. Lead author Katherine M. Kidwell, a psychology doctoral candidate at the University of Nebraska, urged pediatricians to monitor sleep disturbances of children taking the medication so they can adjust timing of doses or provide referrals for behavioral treatment of ADHD. She said parents can help children sleep by encouraging nightly routines such as bedtime stories. 

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