-howard university's healthy kidz adhd research-

Did you know 5-8% of children have a diagnosis of ADHD worldwide and the annual cost for supporting this condition in the United States exceeds the billion dollar mark annually? ADHD is of special interest to Howard University because these statistics are particularly relevant to minorities, families of low social economic status (SES), and children of military parents. While health disparities, revealed in the form of  limitations to quality healthcare and various resources, are disproportionately experienced by minority or low SES populations, it is equally critical to acknowledge that Service members and their dependents are embedded in a culture that entails its own unique tribulations (i.e., deployments, separations, relocation, etc.). Therefore, Howard University’s ADHD/Clinical Sleep lab is wholeheartedly embracing the undertaking of telling the diversified story of everyday Americans who endure this disorder. Regardless of one’s encounter with health disparities or other circumstances, the need for relief is a common theme. Conceivably, one critical goal of this project is to ensure representation of those within the community that rarely have a voice in most studies.

Research informs ADHD tends to impact the same areas in the brain that regulates sleep (amygdala, thalamus, basal ganglia) and that 50-70% of parents report problems with their children’s sleep.  Beyond economical costs, these families are more likely to endure elevated stress, and significant problems in their family relationships.  Restful sleep is vital to a myriad of biological processes, as well as one’s behaviors and cognitive functioning. People of all ages need the recommended hours of quality sleep for their respective age, particularly, children (Vance et. al., 2010; Miller-Horn et. al., 2008; Rietz, 1997; Weiss & Salpekar, 2010; Bullock & Schall, 2005). Compromises in sleep can equate to compromised resilience within the family, directly and indirectly correlating to medical and mental health concerns.

For these reasons (and others), we are comparing the sleep quality and sleep quantity of children without ADHD to children who have the diagnosis and are taking medication for it either every day or only during the school week, or not taking medication at all. Similarly, we are examining sleep behaviors and parental distress between these four groups (unmedicated, continuously medicated, and partially-medicated children with ADHD, and children who do not have ADHD).  We invite parents of youths between the ages of 6 and 11 to join us in improving the quality of life for ADHD-diagnosed children and their families.  This study is creating a platform to share new findings worldwide while extending the opportunity for diverse participation across the nation.

For compensation, a $20 Target e-GiftCard is awarded and emailed to participants once the questionnaire and four day component is completed. Participants who complete only Phase 1's questionnaire are entered into a quarterly raffle for a $50 Target e-GiftCard. Sleep hygiene and behavior improvement information can also be provided to caretakers/parents via a telephone consult, if they desire, once their data is analyzed.

Key variables in our study:

  • Sleep Quality 
  • Sleep Quantity
  • Severity of ADHD Symptoms
  • Dosage and administration of ADHD Medications
  • Parenting stress
  • Various environmental factors 
  • Diversity factors and health disparities

Parental distress factors

  • Lack of organization or daily routines typically leads to stress or feelings of anxiety
  • Lack of effective communication in the household between one's spouse and/or the children  
  • Unclear or loose boundaries that do not reinforce the parental hierarchy
  • Inconsistent punishment and reward systems 

What we've learned so far:

Current results thus far from Phase 1 and 2 revealed: Children without ADHD obtain more, uninterrupted quality sleep than the groups of ADHD children we observed. Children with ADHD engage in 2-3 times as many bedtime obstacles, sleep disruptions, and morning tiredness/irritability behaviors than children without ADHD. CM children obtain increased sleep quality and sleep quantity compared to (UN) and (PM) children with ADHD. Lastly, children without ADHD obtain approximately two hours of extra sleep on the weekend, while CM children with ADHD obtain 30 minutes more than what they get during the week, PM children with ADHD don’t obtain any additional sleep on the weekend, and UN children with ADHD obtain less sleep on weekends. While the experience of military families compared to non-military families has yet to be analyzed, recruitment is one of the immediate initiatives of this study, as increased participation will facilitate more empirically based findings.


We thank all of the institutions, agencies, and local clinics that have supported our efforts in recruitment: Howard University Hospital, (Washington D.C.), Children’s National Medical Center, (Washington D.C), Fort Belvoir Community Hospital, (Fort Belvoir, VA), Fort Belvoir Marketing Team and IRB team; Tripler Army Medical Center (Honolulu, HI), Prince Georges School System, Kettering Elementary School (Largo, MD), Basics Counseling, LLC, (Forestville, MD); and Department of Defense Hawaii (Honolulu) school system.  We also appreciate various establishments within DC, Northern Virginia, and Maryland who have also assisted in our recruitment efforts by facilitating advertising opportunities. Lastly, we hold tremendous gratitude for the 

support and sponsorship of various practitioners within these agencies, as they were instrumental in facilitating various administrative processes.  


Children and Adults with ADHD (CHADD), National Resource on ADHD:

Center for Disease Control (CDC):​

National Sleep Foundation:

National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH):