Researchers at Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School in Boston are helping ADHD kids with anxiety and sleep problems get a better night’s sleep.

The researchers explored use of a non-medication treatment to help the children sleep. It’s an important issue, since the body and mind both restore themselves during sleep.

How many affected by anxiety and sleep problems?

Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) affects 11 percent of children in the United States. Up to 30 percent of those children are also struggling with anxiety.

Between 25 percent and 50 percent of parents of children with ADHD report their children suffer from a sleep problem, especially difficulties with falling asleep and staying asleep.

For researchers and parents alike, not to mention the children who suffer with these issues, this presents an important problem to solve.

What the researchers did

In the study led by Dr. Ronna Fried, “Using a Digital Meditation Application to Mitigate Anxiety and Sleep Problems in Children with ADHD” investigated the usefulness of the pediatric version of Headspace, a digital mindfulness program, in reducing stress in ADHD children.

The researchers studied 18 children with ADHD, ages 6 to 12, for four weeks to evaluate the application. The average age was 9.2 years and 78 percent of the group was male.

The parents of the children completed the Beck Anxiety Inventory Questionnaire and the Children’s Sleep Habits Questionnaire at the start and conclusion of the research.

What the researchers learned

The researchers found that the Headspace digital mindfulness app did indeed significantly reduce anxiety and sleep problems in children with ADHD.

“Children with ADHD and comorbid anxiety and/or sleep problems could benefit from a digitally based meditation application,” the researchers concluded.

“There are thousands of studies that have shown mindfulness and meditation can positively impact mental and physical health, whether it’s by reducing stress, improving sleep, increasing focus, or improving relationships,” the Headspace website notes.

Caveat: The Headspace app is not free, although it does offer a free trial prior to billing for a monthly ($12.99/month) or annual ($69.99/year) subscription.

REFERENCE: Fried R, DiSalvo M, Farrell A, Biederman J. Using a Digital Meditation Application to Mitigate Anxiety and Sleep Problems in Children with ADHD. J Atten Disord. 2022 May;26(7):1033-1039. doi: 10.1177/10870547211025616. Epub 2021 Dec 5. PMID: 34865550.

Hana Julian is a licensed clinical psychotherapist specializing in ADHD across the life span, offering teletherapy sessions. Email or send a WhatsApp text to +972-54-310-1933 for a free consultation.