ADHD subtypes and comorbid anxiety, depression, and oppositional-defiant disorder: differences in sleep problems.
OBJECTIVE To evaluate sleep and alertness and to investigate the presence of possible underlying sleep/wake disorders in children with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). METHOD After 3 nights of adaptation in a room reserved for sleep studies in the department of child psychiatry, children underwent polysomnography (PSG) followed by the Multiple Sleep Latency Test (MSLT) and reaction time tests (RT) during the daytime. Thirty boys diagnosed as having ADHD (DSM-IV), aged between 5 and 10 years, and 22 age- and sex-matched controls participated in the study. All children were medication-free and showed no clinical signs of sleep and alertness problems. RESULTS No significant differences in sleep variables were found between boys with ADHD and controls. The mean latency period was shorter in children with ADHD. Significant differences were found for MSLT 1, 2 and 3 (p < .05). Mean reaction time was longer in children with ADHD, with significant differences in all tests (p < .05). Number and duration of sleep onsets measured by the MSLT correlated significantly with the hyperactivity-impulsivity and inattentive-passivity indices of the CTRS and CPRS. CONCLUSION Children with ADHD were more sleepy during the day, as shown by the MSLT, and they had longer reaction times. These differences are not due to alteration in the quality of nocturnal sleep. The number of daytime sleep onsets and the rapidity of sleep-onsets measured as MSLT were found to be pertinent physiological indices to discriminate between ADHD subtypes. These results suggest that children with ADHD have a deficit in alertness. Whether this deficit is primary or not requires further studies.