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Behavioural issues linked to sleep apnoea


Researchers in the US have revealed a link between children who suffer from attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder – ADHD – and sleep apnoea. As part of the study, carried out at the University of Arizona in Tucson, 263 children aged between six and eleven were assessed overnight, then tested on a number of neurobehavioural tasks. The same test group were then reassessed five years later. It was found that 23 of the children developed ‘incident’ sleep apnoea during the course of the study, 21 suffered the condition throughout, and 41 had the sleep disorder at the beginning of the test but not during the follow-up.

Of those who experienced some form of sleep apnoea it was found that hyperactivity, attention, communication, social competency and self-care issues, along with disruptive behaviour, were reported more frequently when compared to children of the same age group who were classed as healthy sleepers. In addition to this, the study revealed that the sleep apnoea sufferers were more likely to achieve school grades of C or lower.

"School personnel should also consider the possibility that sleep disordered breathing contributes to difficulties with hyperactivity, learning and behavioral and emotional dysregulation in the classroom," said lead author Michelle Perfect, assistant professor at the university.

The full results of the study will appear in the April issue of the journal Sleep.


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