Cognitive and electroencephalographic disturbances in children with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder and sleep problems: new insights

Psychiatry Res. 2009 Dec 30;170(2-3):183-91. doi: 10.1016/j.psychres.2008.10.026. Epub 2009 Oct 25.


There is overlap between the behavioural symptoms and disturbances associated with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (AD/HD) and sleep problems. The aim of this study was to examine the extent of overlap in cognitive and electrophysiological disturbances identified in children experiencing sleep problems and children with AD/HD or both. Four groups (aged 7-18) were compared: children with combined AD/HD and sleep problems (n=32), children with AD/HD (n=52) or sleep problems (n=36) only, and children with neither disorder (n=119). Electrophysiological and cognitive function measures included: absolute EEG power during eyes open and eyes closed, event-related potential (ERP) components indexing attention and working memory processes (P3), and a number of standard neuropsychological tests. Children with symptoms of both AD/HD and sleep problems had a different profile from those of children with either AD/HD or sleep problems only. These findings suggest it is unlikely that disturbances in brain and cognitive functioning associated with sleep problems also give rise to AD/HD symptomatology and consequent diagnosis. Furthermore, findings suggest that children with symptoms of both AD/HD and sleep problems may have a different underlying aetiology than children with AD/HD-only or sleep problems-only, perhaps requiring unique treatment interventions.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Attention / physiology
  • Attention Deficit Disorder with Hyperactivity / complications*
  • Chi-Square Distribution
  • Child
  • Cognition Disorders / etiology*
  • Electroencephalography*
  • Evoked Potentials / physiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Memory, Short-Term / physiology
  • Neuropsychological Tests
  • Sleep Wake Disorders / complications*
  • Wakefulness / physiology