always think things through and can sometimes be impulsive. But when
unpredictability is accompanied by hyperactive behavior and mood swings that
interfere with day-to-day activities, the diagnosis is almost always the same: attention deficit hyperactivity
health officials estimate that children with these symptoms make 6 million
doctor visits per year. To make matters worse, 8 out of 10 of them will wind up
leaving with a prescription for a central nervous system stimulant drug like
Ritalin, Focalin or Adderall.
The idea of
medicating a child at a young age is unfathomable to many parents. Even so, most parents will follow their
pediatrician's advice—despite the nauseating side
effects that these drugs can produce—because they want their kids to feel
But what if sleep
worked just as well?
are now proposing that much of ADHD may, in fact, be a problem associated with
lack of regular circadian sleep. The study suggests that nearly 75 percent of children
and adults with ADHD also have sleep problems. Until now, these have been thought
to be separate issues, but Sandra Kooij, Associate Professor of Psychiatry at
VU University Medical Centre, Amsterdam, and founder and chair of the European
Network Adult ADHD, says otherwise:
extensive research showing that people with ADHD also tend to exhibit sleep
problems. What we are doing here is taking this association to the next logical
step: pulling all the work together leads us to say that, based on existing
evidence, it looks very much like ADHD and circadian problems are intertwined
in the majority of patients," she writes.
Because the day and night rhythm is disturbed by lack of sleep, physical processes such as body temperature, movement patterns and timing of meals can also be disturbed, just to name a few.
"If you review
the evidence, it looks more and more like ADHD and sleeplessness are 2 sides of
the same physiological and mental coin," Kooij writes.
So, the question
remains: Does ADHD cause sleeplessness or does sleeplessness cause ADHD?
latter," says Kooij, "then we may be able to treat some ADHD by
non-pharmacological methods, such as changing light or sleep patterns, and
prevent the negative impact of chronic sleep loss on health."
Though we still don’t
know the answer, it's safe to assume that more tests will soon be underway. Until then,
it's always best to err on the side of caution when it comes to behavioral issues. Keep an eye on your little ones,
make sure they're getting enough sleepand if you don't like what the doctor is telling you, get a second opinion before beginning medications to modify behavioral issues.
Imagine: You’re in the waiting room of your child’s pediatrician’s office, mentally compiling a list of things to bring up during the exam. Of course, you should mention that recurring rash or those asthma attacks, but what about how much your child seems to dislike her teacher this year? Or those vitamins that you started giving her to help ward off colds? Here are eight surprising must-discuss topics that most parents aren't asking.