ADHD study to look at effects of different stimulant medications and dosages on sleep and mood

Researchers at the University of Illinois at Chicago are comparing two common stimulant drugs with a placebo to evaluate their effect on sleep and behavior in children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.

Sleep problems, particularly insomnia or difficulty falling asleep, are frequently associated with ADHD and are often made worse by medications used to treat the disorder.

Sleep patterns will be measured using a sleep diary and an actigraph watch worn in the evening to digitally record activity levels.

Stimulant medications used to treat ADHD affect the way the brain controls alertness, behavior and attention span.

During the 10-week double-blind study, patients ages 10 to 17 will receive several doses of two different long-acting stimulant drugs (dexmethylphenidate and mixed amphetamine salts) and will be receive a placebo for two weeks. The patients will be monitored weekly, and at the end of the study, the optimal dose and medication will be determined for each patient.

"Little is known about effects of different stimulant medications and dosages on sleep and mood," says Dr. Mark Stein, principal investigator of the study and director of the Hyperactivity, Attention, and Learning Problems Clinic at the UIC Institute for Juvenile Research. "Our study will directly compare two common medications and will measure sleep, mood and behavior in older children and adolescents who are most likely to be treated with moderate to higher doses of stimulant medications."

According to Stein, short-term studies have found that ADHD patients often experience success with stimulant medications, but they discontinue treatment prematurely, perhaps due to common side effects that include sleep problems, decreased appetite and mood swings.

Stein and colleagues will also determine if genetic factors predict specific side effects as well as overall response to medication.

Co-investigators at UIC include Drs. Bennett Leventhal, Elizabeth Charney and Edwin Cook.

For more information about the study, call (312) 996-2389.

For more information about the Hyperactivity, Attention, and Learning Problems Clinic at UIC, visit


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