There was a great article in the US News & World Report recently that looked at the complex relationship between sleep and attention deficit disorder. While the experts quoted in the piece haven’t determined exactly what the connection is between sleep and ADD, they’re definitely confident that a link exists.
But what I found more interesting was a New York Times article from 2013 in which Dr. Vatsal G. Thakkar determined that a large group of kids who had been diagnosed with ADHD were, in fact, suffering from a sleep deficit.
It’s a phenomenon I feel like every parent should be aware of, and I’ll talk more about it in this week’s video.Rather read than watch? Click here.
A couple of days go, there was an interesting article floating around the Internet linking sleep problems to attention deficit disorder, and the article said, and it was not discounting the fact that some children legitimately have attention deficit disorder and need to be treated as such, but it did go on to say that sometimes it’s being misdiagnosed, and the real problem is lack of sleep.
Now, I’ve been saying this for years. I’ve been in this business for 14 years and I was a teacher before this, and I can tell you that lots of school-age, preschool-age children are going to bed too late, just bottom line, too late.
Now, children all the way from infant to adolescent need about 10 to 12 hours of night time sleep. So, their sleep needs do not change that much from the time they are born until the time they hit puberty, but a lot of parents forget that, and activities keep you out and your work life keeps you out, and dinner keeps you out, and kids are going to bed later and later and later, but the sad part is that morning time doesn’t change, right.
School starts at a specific time. You’ve gotta get up and out the door for work at a very specific time, so that has no flexibility at all, but somehow bedtime has lots of it, and the article went on to say that sometimes just adding one extra hour of sleep to the child’s night completely erased the symptoms that they experienced during the day.
Now, let’s have a look at that. That’s not a lot of extra sleep. We’re not asking for radical change here. We’re just looking for a little bit extra on the front end of sleep.
Now, think about how it feels to be tired and sort of chronically day in and day out, too tired. We get irritable, right. We get a little bit of focus issues. We can’t remember what we were working on. We feel a little scatter brained. Our impulse is a little higher. We’re a little quicker to jump to anger or frustration. We might lash out verbally to people around us. We feel a little grouchy and irritable in general, right.
Those are all common symptoms of feeling even a little bit sleep deprived. So now, think about that from the perspective of a four-year-old or a six-year-old or a eight-year-old. If that’s how we feel as adults and we have fairly good coping skills, right. We know how to monitor our emotions a little bit better, but you dial that down to a six-year-old, for example, where they’re just still trying to figure out how do you handle these emotions, what are the appropriate ways to deal with frustration or irritation or anger, right.
Those are skills that need to develop over time and then you add this extra layer of fatigue on top of it. It makes a lot of sense to me that those would be the children who are a little more explosive or a little bit more aggressive or lacking focus, okay.
So again, I am not discounting the fact that this is an actual thing. I’m not saying that at all and if you suspect that your child might be experiencing it, it’s absolutely worth a trip to your pediatrician to get a referral somewhere else, but first have a look at sleep.
I mean, we know sleep is the foundation to a healthy, happy life, and it can be the missing component, right. For a lot of people, we just completely overlook this.
So I’m just asking you to have a look, monitor it, hang on tight to your expectations about your children’s sleep, and don’t let it budge, right. I know life gets busy, but for me, still to this day, ask my 15-year-old, right, he might grumpily tell you that he still goes to bed at 8:30 p.m., but I know how important it is for them to be able to function well and optimally throughout the day.
Thanks so much for watching. Sleep well.
If your baby, infant or toddler is having trouble sleeping through the night, help is just a click away! The Sleep Sense Program has helped over 57,00 parents to get their kids sleeping 11-12 hours through the night AND taking long, restful naps during the day. If you’re ready to get started today – I’m looking forward to helping you!
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