ADHD in Teens and Sleep: A Complicated Mix

Sleep Problems May Play a Role in ADHD in Teens

The average individual needs between 7 to 8 hours of sleep every night, but teenagers need about 8 to 10 hours of sleep because their bodies and minds are still developing. Missing out on the proper amounts of sleep can affect attention, mood, and daily functioning in teens. When it comes to ADHD in teens, the effects of lack of sleep could be magnified. Sleep problems are very common in ADHD. Studies suggest that 30 to 75 percent of teens with ADHD don’t get the amount of sleep they need. An article by Psychology Today discusses how ADHD is effecting sleep habits, the possibility of ADHD being misdiagnosed for sleep disorders, and the ways of properly managing ADHD and sleep.

How ADHD in Teens May Interfere with Sleep

ADHD in teens result in these common sleep problems:

  • Short sleep time
  • Trouble falling asleep
  • Daytime sleepiness

These problems are believed to occur because teens with ADHD often have trouble managing their daily activities and schedules. Due to this, it can lead to inconsistent bedtimes and too few hours available for sleeping. Research also suggests that teens with ADHD may have a longer circadian rhythm and circadian preference than individuals without ADHD. This ultimately means, that teens with ADHD have a different natural bodily alarm clock than people without ADHD. They have a harder time going to bed and waking up at what is considered an appropriate timeframe by the rest of society.

Other Mental Health Concerns

The effects of getting too little sleep do not just amplify the effects of ADHD in teens, but can also create other negative mental health conditions. Research of ADHD in teens has shown that sleep problems are associated with an increase in depressive symptoms and oppositional behavior over time. Daytime sleepiness is also linked to a drop in academic performance.

It May Not Be ADHD

While lack of sleep can magnify ADHD, it can also create ADHD symptoms in teens who do not actually struggle with ADHD. Researchers believe that the common diagnosis of ADHD may just be poor sleep habits or a sleep disorder. Whether this is the case, they believe that teens diagnosed or not diagnosed with ADHD can reduce these symptoms by developing better sleep habits and schedules.

How to Manage ADHD and Sleep

For now, teens with ADHD who also have sleep problems may find that managing ADHD with behavior strategies may improve their sleep overall. It is important to stick to healthy sleep habits, such as sticking with a regular bedtime every night and avoiding staying up late to use social media, watch TV, or finish school work. They recommend that parents negotiate with their teens about things such as bedtimes, if TV is allowed before bed, and how much cell phone use is permitted before bed. It is important to be stern in what you decide is best, but also open to what your teen wants and has to suggest.

Elevations RTC can help

Elevations RTC is a leading residential treatment center for teens, ages 13 to 18, grappling with anxiety, depression, substance use, and other emotional or behavioral issues. As a residential treatment center for teens, we try to go above and beyond other RTC’s by having not only one on-site psychiatrist, but two practitioners who see each student weekly. We also have an academic component that uses an accredited curriculum and licensed/credentialed teachers. With all of this, we strive to give each student the most efficient and beneficial experience possible.

For more information about Elevations RTC, please call today!

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