• Vol. 37 No. 8, 655–661
  • 15 August 2008

Sleep Disturbances in Singaporean Children with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder



Introduction: Many studies have reported various levels of association between sleep disorders and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). This study aims to investigate sleep disturbances in children with ADHD prior to treatment and during treatment.

Materials and Methods: This study recruited 114 child and adolescent patients diagnosed with ADHD and 60 normal patients. Sleep disturbances are assessed using the parent-rated Child Behaviour Checklist (CBCL) questionnaire. In addition, chart reviews and semi-structured clinical interviews were conducted for 54 patients with ADHD who had been seen at the clinic since 2002 to examine the sleep disturbances they experienced during treatment over a 4-year period.

Results: Compared to the normal subjects, parents of children with ADHD reported that their children slept less. The summation score of the sleep items on the CBCL was also significantly higher in the ADHD group. Girls with ADHD also had more “trouble sleeping”. When children with ADHD received treatment with medications, they experienced sleep-related side effects. Out of the 54 children with ADHD, 18.5% experienced sleep disturbance related to medication, with 13.0% reporting daytime somnolence and 5.5% reporting insomnia.

Conclusion: Our study showed that there was an increased frequency of sleep disturbances in children with ADHD prior to treatment with medications. The children in our study appeared to sleep less. A significant proportion also experienced sleep disturbance during treatment with medication, of which daytime somnolence and insomnia were the most commonly reported problems. Future research in this area is needed to further examine the range of sleep disorders in ADHD children locally.

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a common childhood psychiatric disorder with various studies reporting prevalence rates of between 1.7% and 16%. The most current version of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Diseases (DSM), fourth edition, has 2 lists of behavioural symptoms grouped under “inattentive” and “hyperactive-impulsive” symptoms, respectively.

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