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Variable sleep schedules and outcomes in children with psychopathological problems: preliminary observations

Authors Spruyt K, Raubuck DL, Grogan K, Gozal D, Stein MA

Published Date February 2012 Volume 2012:4 Pages 9—17

DOI http://dx.doi.org/10.2147/NSS.S29299

Received 18 December 2011, Accepted 19 January 2012, Published 21 February 2012

Karen Spruyt1, Danielle L Raubuck2, Katie Grogan2, David Gozal1, Mark A Stein2
1Department of Pediatrics and Comer Children’s Hospital, Pritzker School of Medicine, University of Chicago, Chicago, IL; 2Institute for Juvenile Research, Hyperactivity and Learning Problems Clinic, University of Illinois at Chicago, Chicago, IL

Background: Night-to-night variability in sleep of children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) may be a mediator of behavioral phenotype. We examined the potential association between alertness, sleep, and eating behaviors in children with ADHD and comorbid problems.
Methods: Sleep was monitored by actigraphy for 7 days. Questionnaires were used to assess sleep complaints, habits and food patterns by parental report, and sleep complaints and sleepiness by child report.
Results: The group comprised 18 children, including 15 boys, aged 9.4 ± 1.7 years, 88.9% Caucasian, who took one or multiple medications. Children slept on average for 6 hours and 58 minutes with a variability of 1 hour 3 minutes relative to the mean, and their sleepiness scores were highly variable from day to day. Most children had a normal body mass index (BMI). Sleepiness and BMI were associated with sleep schedules and food patterns, such that they accounted for 76% of variance, predominantly by the association of BMI with mean wake after sleep onset and by bedtime sleepiness, with wake after sleep onset variability. Similarly, 97% of variance was shared with eating behaviors, such as desserts and snacks, and fast food meals were associated with morning sleepiness.
Conclusion: Disrupted sleep and sleepiness appears to favor unhealthy food patterns and may place children with ADHD at increased risk for obesity.

Keywords: sleep, child, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, actigraphy

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