More Sleep May Help Teens with ADHD Focus and Organize

Sleep Study ADHD

More Sleep May Help Teens with ADHD Focus and Organize

According to a recent study, teenagers with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) may benefit from more sleep to help them focus, plan, and control their emotions.

This is such an important finding for young people and their families struggling with the negative effects of ADHD, and it is definitely worth a try as a lifestyle change to boost the effects of the other skills, therapy, or medications they have been using to manage their symptoms.

ADHD is one of the most common neurobehavioral disorders among children and adolescents. People with ADHD often have trouble with executive function, which are skills that contribute to being able to focus, pay attention, and manage time. Executive function challenges in young people may interfere with their academic performance, social skills, and emotional development.

Previous research has found that a lack of sleep contributes to poorer executive functioning in typically developing adolescents, but teens with ADHD had not yet been studied.

Researchers from Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center measured executive function in adolescent volunteers with ADHD after two separate sleep trials. The volunteers had their sleep restricted to six and a half hours per night for one week. Next, they were allowed to sleep up to nine and a half hours each night for one week.

After each trial, the research team tested the teens with the Behavior Rating Inventory of Executive Function, Second Edition (BRIEF2), a widely used psychological test of executive function in children up to age 18. The BRIEF2 assesses executive function areas such as working memory, planning and organization, emotional control, initiation and inhibition.

After getting extra sleep for a week, the teens showed much better executive functioning than when their sleep time was shortened. The tests showed significant deficits in all of the assessed areas following the sleep-restriction week, compared to the sleep-extension week.

Results of this study suggest that sleep may be an important target for future treatments of ADHD in teens. Just as it does for neurotypical teens, increased sleep could have a significant and positive impact on academic, social, and emotional functioning in adolescents with ADHD.


Authored by:  Dr. Kiara Moore

Reference: American Physiological Society (2019, April 8). More sleep may help teens with ADHD focus and organize: Study is first to find executive functioning skills deteriorate with lack of sleep.