Review: Identification and Management of Circadian Rhythm Sleep Disorders as a Transdiagnostic Feature in Child and Adolescent Psychiatry

Martijn Arns*, J. J. Sandra Kooij, Andrew N. Coogan

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articleAcademicpeer-review


Objective: Sleep disturbances are highly frequent features in a range of child and adolescent psychiatric conditions. However, it is commonly not clear if such sleep problems represent symptomatic features of, comorbidities of, or risk factors for these conditions. It is believed that underlying dysfunction in the daily biological (circadian) clock may play important roles in the etiology of many sleep disorders, and circadian rhythm changes are reported in a number of neuropsychiatric conditions. The aim of this review was to explore the key identifying features of circadian rhythm disorders (CRDs) in child and adolescent psychiatry and address how such disorders may be managed in the clinic. Method: A narrative review was conducted of the extant literature of CRDs in children and adolescents with psychiatric conditions. Results: Key biological and social factors that contribute to CRDs in children and adolescents, and the cognitive and neurobehavioral consequences resulting from insufficient sleep were outlined. The roles of melatonin and other chronotherapeutic and behavioral interventions for the management of CRDs were also outlined. Further, the importance of careful investigation of circadian rhythm abnormalities in shaping the most effective treatment plan according to chronobiological principles was highlighted. Conclusion: CRDs are common in children and adolescents with psychiatric conditions and arise out of complex interactions between biological and social factors. Careful clinical attention to and management of CRDs in child and adolescent psychiatry have the potential for significant benefit not only in the domain of sleep but also in a range of cognitive, affective, and behavioral outcomes.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1085-1095
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry
Issue number9
Early online date2021
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2021

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