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ADHD or Sleep Deprivation?

Abstract: Too little sleep and ADHD can give similar symptoms. How many hours of sleep does an average person need?

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ADHD or Sleep Deprivation?

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Written by: Martin Winkler
First version: 22 Jul 2008.
Latest revision: 24 Jul 2008.

Is it ADHD or too little sleep?


Sleep deprivation will influence the cognitive function of the brain! So it is very important to rule out sleep problems or lack of sleep due to TV or other activities during nightime. Sleep research showed that 11 and 12 year olds, who get less than 6.5 hours of sleep per night had similar attention and behaviour problems that mimicked ADHD. These kids are often irritated and defiant and had additional problems at school. It is very important to get enough sleep! One night of sleep loss can reduce the brain processing capacity by 30 to 40 %! Two nights without sleep will reduce the attentive and cognive functions by 60-70%!

So it is very important to make sure your child (and you) gets enough sleep!

How much sleep is enough? Below are typical minimum sleeping times, but large variations exists between different people.

  • infancy/toddler : 17-18 hours
  • 4 year old: 10-12 hours
  • 10 year old: 9-10 hours
  • 18 year old: 8-9 hours
  • 30 year old: 7-8 hours
  • 60 year old: less than 6-7 hours
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