UNL study finds ADHD medicine may cause sleep problems for children

Posted By: Veronica Ortega


A recent study from UNL says medication for ADHD may cause sleep problems for children. Experts say 1 in 14 children and teens in the U.S. are diagnosed with ADHD each year and stimulant medication is the most common form of treatment.

"A lot of the time these children will have a more difficult time in structured situations or in school settings where they need to pay attention," says Katie Kidwell, a psychology doctoral student at UNL.

Researchers at  UNL say there are mixed findings about whether it’s really helping. Some say insomnia is an adverse affect and others claim these drugs reduce resistance to bedtime. The UNL team looked at different studies and found children who take stimulant meds tend to have worst sleep overall.

"So they sleep for less time and they have poor quality of sleep and it takes them longer to fall asleep each night," says Katie Kidwell.  

Katie Kidwell recommends pediatricians monitor sleep in their patients because according to the National Sleep Foundation kids need about 10 to 12 hours of sleep each night to function. She says behavioral forms of treatment in addition to medication may help.

"A lot of time it’s working with schools and parents to set up systems that really help these children add more structure and more consistency in their daily interactions and routines to help improve their symptoms," says Katie Kidwell.

The UNL study used clinical sleep studies and wristband monitors at home. They also found no difference between the stimulant medications.