Prevalence of sleep disorder diagnoses and sleep medication prescriptions in individuals with ADHD across the lifespan: a Swedish nationwide register-based study

BMJ Ment Health. 2023 Aug;26(1):e300809. doi: 10.1136/bmjment-2023-300809.


Background: Consistent evidence suggests a strong association between attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and subjectively reported sleep problems. However, the prevalence of clinically ascertained sleep disorder diagnoses and sleep medication prescriptions in individuals with ADHD remains unclear.

Objective: To determine the rates of sleep disorder diagnoses and sleep medication prescriptions in children, adolescents and adults with ADHD.

Methods: We linked Swedish national registers to create a cohort of individuals born 1945-2008. We estimated the absolute and relative risks (using logistic regression models) of different sleep disorder diagnoses and medication prescriptions in individuals with and without ADHD. The analyses were performed across five different age groups: children (5-11 years), adolescents (12-17 years), young adults (18-30 years), middle-aged adults (31-45 years) and older adults (46-60 years).

Findings: Among individuals with ADHD (N=145 490, 2.25% of the cohort), 7.5% had a sleep disorder diagnosis and 47.5% had been prescribed sleep medication. Individuals with ADHD, across all age groups, had a statistically significantly increased risk of having any sleep disorder diagnosis (ORrange=6.4-16.1) and any sleep medication prescription (ORrange=12.0-129.4) compared with individuals without ADHD. While rates of sleep disorders were highest in older adults, the relative risks were highest in youth.

Conclusions: Individuals with ADHD have a substantially increased risk of sleep disorder diagnoses and sleep medication prescriptions, from childhood into older adulthood.

Clinical implications: More clinical efforts are needed to tackle impairing sleep problems in individuals with ADHD via systematic sleep assessment, appropriate diagnosis, and pharmacological and non-pharmacological interventions. Sleep medication use should be informed by sleep disorder diagnosis.

Keywords: Adult psychiatry; Child & adolescent psychiatry.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Aged
  • Attention Deficit Disorder with Hyperactivity* / diagnosis
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Drug Prescriptions
  • Humans
  • Longevity
  • Middle Aged
  • Prevalence
  • Sleep
  • Sleep Wake Disorders* / diagnosis
  • Sweden / epidemiology
  • Young Adult