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Study shows impact of sleep on kids’ academic achievement and mental health

Posted on December 23rd, 2021

In a preliminary study from the University of Cincinnati, teenage boys with ADHD showed lasting improvements in behavior, mental health, executive function, and academic achievement after completing a cognitive behavior program aimed at improving sleep.

The program, Transdiagnostic Sleep and Circadian Intervention for Youth (TranS-C), was a series of cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) sessions and exercises. After completing the program, the youths improved sleep and social and emotional control, mood, executive function, and academic performance. Researchers would like to conduct a larger study to see the scale of the effects. However, these initial results are very good.

Developmental issues and sleep issues are often linked

ADHD isn’t the only developmental disorder that’s affected by sleep quality. Researchers are discovering that ASD, dyslexia, anxiety, depression, and other disorders in children can also be either caused by or worsened by poor sleep.

Sleep is essential for growing brains, and when children have trouble falling asleep, staying asleep, or getting high-quality sleep, their brains suffer. However, for children with these disorders, good sleep isn’t just a matter of a bedtime story and a set time for lights out. Bedtime routines can help, but as their exhausted parents can tell you, children with special needs often don’t sleep or don’t sleep well.

When a child has special needs, sleep screening is essential

This study once again shows the importance of assessing all children, especially those with special needs, for sleep quality. In cases where a child has a diagnosis, it’s often worth referring out to an ENT for an evaluation and possible sleep study. These kids need help, and improving sleep is an easy way to improve the lives of both children and parents.

Children’s sleep impacts so much of their lives. It affects their moods, their ability to socialize with peers, and their academics. It also impacts their family life. When a child isn’t sleeping well, the parents aren’t sleeping well either. You get a perfect storm where the child needs more support, but the exhausted parents are unable to give that support due to their own sleep deprivation.  

Treating pediatric sleep disorders saves families

If your child has been diagnosed with developmental disabilities or you suspect they may have disabilities, talk to someone about sleep screenings. Your pediatrician or dentist may be able to point you toward help and support.  

To learn more about how sleep and a lack of sleep affect developing brains, read Airway is Life. You’ll be amazed by how many parts of your child’s development are directly impacted by sleep quality.

Dr. Meghna Dassani has practiced dentistry for over two decades and is passionate about dentists’ role in whole-body health. You can learn more at her website:

Airway Is Life:

The Book Your Family Needs to Read Today


Healthy Sleep Revolution Podcast Cover

Healthy Sleep Revolution Podcast

Snoring? Tired all day? Trouble focusing?
So many think these symptoms are common in kids and adults when tired. Join us as we debunk some of these common myths and put the spotlight on Sleep Apnea. Discover what constitutes healthy sleep and how we can help ourselves and our kids get the best sleep ever.


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