Excessive sleepiness may be cause of learning, attention and school problems

Children with learning, attention and behavior problems may be suffering from sleepiness. Penn State researchers divided 508 children into two groups. One group had parents who reported their children experiencing excessive daytime sleepiness. Parents of the second group reported their children alert during the day. The sleepy kids were more likely to experience learning, attention/hyperactivity and conduct problems.

What surprised researchers was that the tired students got just as much sleep as the other children. Measurements in the lab confirmed it. The researchers suggested that the sleepiness was being caused by obesity or symptoms of inattention, depression or anxiety. Asthma and parents reporting that their children had trouble falling asleep also seemed to contribute to the sleepiness.

Researchers said parents and educators are good resources for determining if a child seems excessively sleepy in the daytime. Their complaints should be taken seriously by health professionals examining the children. Otherwise, the learning and behavior problems could have further consequences in the child’s life.

The study appeared in the May issue of the journal SLEEP. Read more about children’s sleep needs and ways to evaluate whether or not your child is sleepy. For professional assistance, contact an accredited sleep center in your area.