A wide variety of psychiatric conditions are associated with social cognitive deficits. The relationship between social cognition and many factors, especially executive functions (EF), has been examined, but there is no study examining sleep and social cognition in children with attention deficit activity disorder (ADHD). It is important to find new approaches and intervention areas to improve their social cognitive skills. The main hypothesis of our study was that sleep disturbance would predict lower social cognition scores. We hypothesized that sleep disturbances and EF impairment could predict lower social cognitive performance.
Eighty-five children aged 7-12 years with drug-naïve ADHD were included in the study. Reading the Mind in the Eyes Test (RMET) and Faux Pas Recognition Test (FPRT) were used for social cognition performance; Stroop test was used for executive function performance. Sleep disturbance was evaluated with Children’s Sleep Habits Questionnaire (CSHQ), ADHD severity with Conners Parent Rating Scale (CPRS). Hierarchical multiple regression analyses were performed to determine predictive factors of the FPRT and RMET.
Age, gender, and comorbidity were included at step 1, CPRS-RS score was included at step 2, Stroop test part V score was included at step 3, CSHQ total score and sleep duration were included at step 4. Lower sleep disturbance score on CSHQ was associated with higher social cognition FPRT score (p = 0.014). There was no significant relationship between CSHQ and social cognition RMET score. Lower EF score on Stroop test part V was associated with higher social cognition FPRT score (p = 0.002) and higher social cognition RMET score (p < 0.001).
These results showed that sleep disturbance and EF are both associated with social cognitive impairment, sleep particularly with the cognitive component. Identifying sleep problems in children with ADHD may provide helpful information in understanding and treating social cognitive impairments. This study is the first to draw attention to the relationship between sleep and social cognition.

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