ADHD – also called Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder – is a neuropsychiatric disorder. ADHD is expressed as a disturbance of attention and activity. The disorder is best known in children, and studies show that ADHD occurs in 2-4% of all children. Boys are affected 4-5 times more often than girls. More than half of all children affected by ADHD retain the disorder throughout their adult lives.


Symptoms of ADHD
ADHD occurs in many different degrees of severity and can cause secondary problems such as learning difficulties, motor difficulties, behavioural disorders, developmental disorders, anxiety and depression.

ADHD is characterised by attention deficit, hyperactivity and impulsivity.

ADD is the silent form of ADHD. There is no hyperactivity here.

Children with ADHD often have difficulty sitting still, waiting their turn, following norms, completing tasks or controlling their emotions and temperament.

Researchers believe ADHD is caused by disturbances in several areas of the brain. It seems that the brain has a reduced ability to transport the signalling substances dopamine and norepinephrine. It is believed that this causes the brain to tire and thereby the symptoms of ADHD appear.

ADHD is primarily hereditary, but can also result from influences on the child's brain before, during or after birth.

ADHD and sleep
Children and young people with ADHD can have difficulty falling asleep. They are usually not tired at normal bedtime. They may also have intrusive thoughts and it may take up to two hours before sleep occurs.

During sleep, they may experience more or less REM (Rapid Eye Movements) sleep than usual, breathing disturbances, periodic leg movements and an increased number of bodymovements than usual.

Too little sleep can lead to social jet lag , where the sleep deficit gets bigger and bigger every night until they crash and sleep a lot.

Children and young people with ADHD may develop insomnia or anxiety.

Conversely, some may fall asleep before normal bedtime and wake up early in the morning. This does not fit into the normal circadian rhythm of social activities.

Children and young people with ADHD need support to fall asleep. The key is a stable circadian rhythm, which is supported by fixed routines around bedtime and waking up and a comfortable and safe sleeping environment.

ADHD and sleep glasses
ADHD can also cause sleep disturbances, and experiments with sleep glasses at the University of Toronto have shown that it is possible to induce a significant improvement in both the objective and the subjective degree of the symptoms of ADHD in adults by advancing the circadian rhythm.

The circadian rhythm can be advanced by wearing sleep glasses for 1-2 hours before normal bedtime. The total time during which the ADHD sufferer either sleeps or wears sleep glasses should preferably be 10-11 hours.

The same results have not yet been demonstrated for children and young people with ADHD, due to a lack of trials.

Research regarding ADHD

Below are a number of summaries/abstracts of scientific trials dealing with ADHD.

The abstracts originate from medical records (copyright).