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Study Shows Impact of Sleep on Kids’ Academic Achievement and Mental Health


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In a preliminary study from the University of Cincinnati, teenaged 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 showed improved sleep but also improved social and emotional control, mood, executive function, and academic performance.  Researchers would like to conduct a larger study to see if effects scale.  However, these initial results are very good.

Developmental Issues and Sleep Issues are often Linked

ADHD isn’t the only developmental disorder that seems to be 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 just 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, and 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 impacts 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 that they may have disabilities, talk to someone about sleep screenings. Your pediatrician or dentist may be able to point you towards help and support.  

To learn more about how sleep, and lack of sleep affects 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.