Some days your child seems fine. Other days a truckload of Valium couldn’t calm him or her down. You hate the label of ADHD. Could something else be wrong?
I was recently in a situation around a bunch a 1st graders. One of the children seemed particularly zoned out and someone mentioned that he must be medicated today. I don’t think it gets much sadder than that. I’m sure that there are children who may truly be classified as uncontrollable and disruptive, but this number cannot possibly be as high as the number of children we are medicating.
I personally believe that there are two aspects to childhood behaviors as they relate to ADHD and anxiety. The first aspect is exposures in the womb. There is mounting evidence on how much exposures in the womb play a role in the risk of a child being diagnosed with anxiety disorder or ADHD later on in childhood. Some of these exposures include:
- Iodine deficiency in the mother leading to thyroid imbalance in the child.
- Polyaromatic hydrocarbons (PAH) from rapidly grilled foods during pregnancy have been linked to ADHD and anxiety.
The second aspect has to do with the child’s lifestyle and family environment once he or she is born. The first aspect, exposures in the womb, no one can go back and change. This aspect, however, is readily under a parent’s control.
While I’m sure there are many other aspects to helping your child’s brain, these are a few I have covered in past blog posts:
- Higher intakes of unsaturated fats (olive oil, avacodos, nuts, wild caught fish).
- Iron supplementation was found to help ADHD symptoms in this case study.
- Omega 3 fatty acid supplementation.
This is a brain we are talking about. And a developing one at that. This developing brain needs EVERY ounce of nutrition we can give it, while at the same time not abusing the brain with unneeded chemicals, pesticides and stress (including parental stress).
Stress, of course, can relate to sleep.
This particular study demonstrates just how massively important sleep is to your child’s delicate brain. Researchers looked at a group of 7-11 year old children and set up two scenarios. One hour of sleep restriction (using normal weekday sleep duration as a baseline) and one hour of sleep extension. The teachers then rated the children on their behavior the next day. Here’s what they found:
- A mere 27 minutes of extra sleep was associated with improvement emotional ability and restless-impulsive behavior scores as well as a reduction in daytime sleepiness. (Tweet this)
- On the flip side, 54 minutes of sleep restriction showed deterioration on these same measures.
Consider these facts when deciding on your child’s bedtime and wake time. Do they wake up later on the weekends then they do during the week? It is possible they are not getting the extra sleep his or her brain really needs. So maybe your child does not need meds. Maybe just 27 minutes more of sleep could work miracles.
Do you use “catch up” sleep on the weekends for yourself or your children to make up for less sleep time during the week?