Sleep disturbance and neuropsychological function in young children with ADHD

Heather E. Schneider, Janet C. Lam, E. Mark Mahone

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations


Sleep disturbance, common among children with ADHD, can contribute to cognitive and behavioral dysfunction. It is therefore challenging to determine whether neurobehavioral dysfunction should be attributed to ADHD symptoms, sleep disturbance, or both. The present study examined parent-reported sleep problems (Childrens Sleep Habits Questionnaire) and their relationship to neuropsychological function in 64 children, aged 4-7 years, with and without ADHD. Compared to typically developing controls, children with ADHD were reported by parents to have significantly greater sleep disturbance-including sleep onset delay, sleep anxiety, night awakenings, and daytime sleepiness-(all p ≤.01), and significantly poorer performance on tasks of attention, executive control, processing speed, and working memory (all p <.01). Within the ADHD group, total parent-reported sleep disturbance was significantly associated with deficits in attention and executive control skills (all p ≤.01); however, significant group differences (relative to controls) on these measures remained (p <.01) even after controlling for total sleep disturbance. While sleep problems are common among young children with ADHD, these findings suggest that inattention and executive dysfunction appear to be attributable to symptoms of ADHD rather than to sleep disturbance. The relationships among sleep, ADHD symptoms, and neurobehavioral function in older children may show different patterns as a function of the chronicity of disordered sleep.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)493-506
Number of pages14
JournalChild Neuropsychology
Issue number4
StatePublished - May 18 2016


  • Assessment
  • Childhood
  • Development
  • Neuropsychological
  • Sleep

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology


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