The New York Times has an interesting editorial from a professor of psychiatry at N.Y.U. School of Medicine who sees a lot of adults who think they have A.D.H.D. but they actually have sleep deprivation.
Vatsal G. Thakkar points out that there is a number of studies that show a huge proportion of children with A.D.H.D diagnoses often also have a sleep disorder such as apnea, snoring, restless leg syndrome or non-restorative sleep.
And for some people, especially children, sleep deprivation can cause them to become hyperactive and unfocussed instead of lethargic.
“We all get less sleep than we used to. The number of adults who reported sleeping fewer than seven hours each night went from some 2 percent in 1960 to more than 35 percent in 2011. Sleep is even more crucial for children, who need delta sleep — the deep, rejuvenating, slow-wave kind — for proper growth and development. Yet today’s youngsters sleep more than an hour less than they did a hundred years ago. And for all ages, contemporary daytime activities — marked by nonstop 14-hour schedules and inescapable melatonin-inhibiting iDevices — often impair sleep. It might just be a coincidence, but this sleep-restricting lifestyle began getting more extreme in the 1990s, the decade with the explosion in A.D.H.D. diagnoses. …
“One study, published in 2004 in the journal Sleep, looked at 34 children with A.D.H.D. Every one of them showed a deficit of delta sleep, compared with only a handful of the 32 control subjects.
“A 2006 study in the journal Pediatrics showed something similar, from the perspective of a surgery clinic. This study included 105 children between ages 5 and 12. Seventy-eight of them were scheduled to have their tonsils removed because they had problems breathing in their sleep, while 27 children scheduled for other operations served as a control group. Researchers measured the participants’ sleep patterns and tested for hyperactivity and inattentiveness, consistent with standard protocols for validating an A.D.H.D. diagnosis.
“Of the 78 children getting the tonsillectomies, 28 percent were found to have A.D.H.D., compared with only 7 percent of the control group.”
The author points out that in a follow-up to that study, a full half — 11 of the 22 — no longer met the criteria for A.D.H.D.
I find this article very interesting because when Rose had her tonsils out last summer our local E.N.T. mentioned in passing a possible connection between tonsil removal and helping A.D.H.D. He was going over the American Academy of Pediatrics list of reasons to remove tonsils and he said they had not added A.D.H.D yet but he said it often helped kids who had A.D.H.D. I’m surprised he was aware of these studies.
So have you ever heard of this connection between sleep deprivation and A.D.H.D. symptoms? Have you noticed any of these connections in your own kids? Did your E.N.T. explain any connection when talking about a possible tonsillectomy? Did you notice any improvement with a tonsillectomy?