Friday, October 27, 2006

A Link Between Poor Sleep and ADHD?

A Link Between Poor Sleep and ADHD? If your child has poor impulse control, consider whether sleep deprivation may be part of the problem. In his book, What Causes ADHD?, Dr. Joel Nigg compares the symptoms of ADHD to those of inadequate sleep. There is a striking similarity between the effects of sleep deprivation and the symptoms of ADHD. Kids who are over tired are hyperactive, irritable and impulsive. They can also suffer problems with learning and memory. All this being said, getting an at risk child to sleep is easier said than done.

It seems that the more over tired a child is, the more he resists going to sleep. Children require 9-10 hours of sleep each night. This means that children require more sleep than their parents and so have to go to bed earlier! The bad news is that many young children do require a parent’s help with going to sleep. If this is your situation, take comfort in knowing that many other parents (including me) share your nightly struggles.

As Dr. Sears points out in his article (see children that are raised to have a strong bond with their parents often have trouble going to sleep on their own. I agree with his statement that children who are trained to be alone may have an easier time going to sleep. However, we do not want to train our at risk kids to be alone. We want them to enjoy being with us so much that at times they do dislike separating to go to bed. The only solution is the one Dr. Sears also suggests. Keep your son or daughter company for a while as he/she falls asleep. Read to your child at bedtime and try to develop a good nightly routine so your child knows what to expect. Teach him with your words about the importance of a good nights sleep. Tell him what time he is expected to go to sleep and enforce his bedtime consistently.

Take comfort in knowing that there are very few 16 year olds who still require a parent’s help to fall asleep. Try to enjoy the precious few years you have to nurture your child and teach him to love.

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