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ADHD Medication Linked To Kids Sleep Problems

Sleeping boy
Photograph by Getty Images/Flickr RF

Parents of kids with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) may face another challenge as they seek treatment for their child. A research review confirmed that Ritalin, Concerta and Adderall, all drugs used to treat ADHD, list sleep problems as a potential side effect.

Katherine Kidwell, a researcher at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, and her team pooled the results of seven clinical trials in which children with ADHD were randomly assigned to take a stimulant or not.

The research showed that children who were given stimulants tended to sleep less, on average, than children given placebo pills. Her team also found that, on average, the more often a child took a stimulant during the day, the longer it took to fall asleep at night.

"We're not trying to encourage parents to stop their children's medication," Kidwell told HEALTH. "But we do encourage parents to talk to their pediatrician if they think their child is having sleep problems."

Fitful sleeping habits may not always be attributed to medical stimulants. Parents and kids may also need advice on developing good sleep habits, Kidwell advised.

"Have them go to bed at the same time every night, and keep electronic devices out of the bedroom, Dr. Trevor Resnick, chief of pediatric neurology at Nicklaus Children's Hospital in Miami told HEALTH.

Resnick, who was not a part of Kidwell's research team recommends that all children develop good sleeping habits to aid in healthy brain development.

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