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Time Change Tougher for Kids With Mental Health Issues

HealthDay News
by -- Robert Preidt
Updated: Mar 8th 2019

new article illustration

FRIDAY, March 8, 2019 (HealthDay News) -- When the clocks spring forward an hour this Sunday, it will throw everyone off.

But the time change will affect children with mental health issues the most, experts warn.

"Sleep is a more complicated issue for patients with a mental health disorder," said Dr. Robert Kowatch. He is a child and adolescent psychiatrist and sleep medicine specialist at Nationwide Children's Hospital in Columbus, Ohio.

"Different conditions affect sleep differently, as do various medications for these conditions and their related side effects. These patients may be more sensitive to time changes than the typical child or teen," Kowatch said in a hospital news release.

For example, youngsters with bipolar disorder often sleep less when manic. In some cases, a time change can cause a manic episode in people with bipolar disorder.

Depression can make it more difficult for children to fall asleep, and teens with anxiety often suffer insomnia because their anxiety makes it difficult to relax and fall asleep, Kowatch added.

Children with autism tend to sleep one to two hours less per night than other children their age, and they wake up earlier.

Stimulant medications can cause some youngsters with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder to have "rebound hyperactivity" close to bedtime, making it more difficult for them to get to sleep, he noted.

"With many medications, an impact on sleep is a possible side effect, from interfering with falling asleep to resulting in next-day drowsiness," Kowatch said.

"Parents and patients should create a plan with their clinician, and make sure dose schedules and amounts are properly followed, such as taking a longer-lasting dose earlier in the day followed by a shorter-lasting dose later in the day, so a stimulant can wear off -- if necessary -- in time for bed to allow for restful sleep," he advised.

More information

The National Sleep Foundation has more on children and sleep.