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Sleep Problems as Predictors in Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder: Causal Mechanisms, Consequences and Treatment.


Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is notorious for its debilitating consequences and early age of onset. The need for early diagnosis and intervention has frequently been underscored. Previous studies have attempted to clarify the bidirectional relationship between ADHD and sleep problems, proposing a potential role for sleep problems as early predictors of ADHD. Sleep deprivation, sleep-disordered breathing, and circadian rhythm disturbances have been extensively studied, yielding evidence with regard to their induction of ADHD-like symptoms. Genetic-phenotypic differences across individuals regarding the aforementioned sleep problems have been elucidated along with the possible use of these characteristics for early prediction of ADHD. The long-term consequences of sleep problems in individuals with ADHD include obesity, poor academic performance, and disrupted parent-child interactions. Early intervention has been proposed as an approach to preventing these debilitating outcomes of ADHD, with novel treatment approaches ranging from melatonin and light therapy to myofunctional therapy and adjustments of the time point at which school starts.