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Excessive Day Time Sleep Could Cause Behavioral and Attention Related Problems in Children

Update Date: May 28, 2012 12:53 PM EDT

After a new study linking sleep apnea to cancer, another study shows that it could be also the cause in children with learning and attention related problems and could make it difficult for them to control their behavior.

A study conducted by Penn State researchers reveals that children with learning, attention and/or behavior problems may be suffering from a condition known as excessive daytime sleepiness (EDS), even if test results say that they have ample sleep at night.

The study published in the May 2012 issue of journal Sleep was conducted on 508 children while their parents were asked to report if their children showed signs of EDS. The children were then divided into two different groups — ones with EDS, and ones without EDS — and observed. . The results showed that the children with EDS were more likely to have behavioral and attention problems and hyperactivity. They also displayed poor learning skills and performance when compared to children without EDS.

Surprisingly, few children from the EDS group also showed signs of short (not enough) sleep when tested. Thus, short sleep was not associated with learning, attention and behavioral problems by the researchers, says a report in Huffington Post.

The possible explanation for EDS in children could be lack of restorative sleep. Like adults, it could be the quality of sleep rather than the length of it that determines a child's ability to pay attention.

As pointed out by the Huffington Post writer, what could be the most worrying part is that a lot of children with lesser capability to pay attention are misdiagnosed with ADHD and perhaps being even treated for it, when the root cause of their problem could be due to obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) or other sleep disorder.

A child, who is sleep deprived or shows signs of EDS, could show symptoms of behavioral and learning problems. Such children should be first diagnosed for sleep disorder and an ADHD should be considered later.

A problem of hyperactivity, attention and behavioral problems could be due to ADHD. But if the child is misdiagnosed for ADHD and the real cause is a sleep disorder, the prescribed drugs could worsen the situation and not help the situation at all.

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