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Last Updated: Tuesday, 29 November 2005, 00:21 GMT
Disorder ruining parents' sleep
Teenagers - anonymous
Children with the disorder have problems going to sleep and staying asleep
Many parents of children with a hyperactive disorder get as little as six hours sleep a night, a study says.

The poll of 100 parents of children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) aged five to 16 found 57% slept six hours or less.

Parents said sleep was disrupted by problems their children had getting to sleep, staying asleep and waking early.

Campaigners have now launched an initiative to help parents tackle sleep problems.

Parents expect sleepless nights with teething babies, but it is important to recognise and find ways of minimising the impact of long-term sleep deprivation
Professor Peter Hill, of Great Ormond Street Hospital

Over half of children with the behaviour disorder, which affects 5% of UK children, get up at least four times a night after going to bed, while 42% wake their parents before six in the morning.

The lack of sleep meant that schoolwork and daytime behaviour suffered, parents said.

And the survey revealed one in five parents had to miss work because of a lack of sleep and nearly half said it affected their relationship with their partner.

But experts also claimed the parents' sleep disruption was likely to make their children's behaviour worse.

Dr David Coghill, senior lecturer in child and adolescent psychiatry at the University of Dundee, said: "There is no question of parents' lack of sleep in anyway causes the behaviour of their children.

"However, it is likely to have an impact on their capacity to manage their children."


The Sleep Seekers campaign launched by National Attention Deficit Disorder Information and Support Service (ADDISS), calls on parents to develop regular sleep routines.

Experts say calming bed-time routines such as a bath, not letting children sleep in too long in the morning and controlling use of TV and computer games at bed-time can all help.

Great Ormond Street Hospital psychiatrist Professor Peter Hill said: "These parents are desperate to do the best for their children, but the constant exhaustion felt by many, which in some cases lasts until their child reaches adulthood, can have a serious effect on family life as well as the children themselves.

"Parents expect sleepless nights with teething babies, but it is important to recognise and find ways of minimising the impact of long-term sleep deprivation."

ADDISS founder Andrea Bilbow added the survey results were "worrying".

"Parents should be encouraged to seek the best available treatments and therapies to help minimise the negative impact that ADHD can have."

A Sleep Seekers information book is available by visiting

How one mother copes with a hyperactive child


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