Excessive Sleepiness May Be Cause of Learning, Attention and School Problems

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May 9, 2012

Children who have learning, attention, and behavior problems may be suffering from excessive daytime sleepiness even though clinical tests show they received enough sleep.

Penn State researchers studied 508 children and found that those whose parents reported excessive daytime sleepiness despite getting enough sleep were more likely to experience learning, attention, and behavior problems.

What is causing this? Obesity, depression, anxiety, and asthma have been found to contribute to excessive daytime sleepiness even among children with no signs of inadequate sleep time or sleep apnea .

“Impairment due to excessive daytime sleepiness in cognitive and behavioral function can have a serious impact on a child’s development,” said Susan Calhoun, PhD, the study’s lead author, “When children are referred for neurobehavioral problems, they should be assessed for potential risk factors for excessive daytime sleepiness. Recognition and treatment can offer new strategies of the most common neurobehavioral challenges in young school-aged children.”

Calhoun said researchers were surprised that most of the children showed few signs of short sleep. She said parents and education are good resources for determining if a child seems excessively sleepy in the daytime.