ADHD Misdiagnosis - Missing Sleep
by Jon E Bennett
causes similar behavior which we will discuss in more depth next week. Other
situations have a root cause that is much more boring.
This is perhaps nowhere more true than in the case of the role of sleep (or rather the
lack thereof) on general health and behavior. Millions of mothers throughout the ages
have sworn by the fact that their kid's behavior gets worse for every extra hour of
sleep that they did not get. It turns out that modern science is confirming this bit 'folk
One of the most interesting pieces of research on the effects of a lack of proper
sleep is particularly relevant for our discussion of ADD/ADHD misdiagnosis. The
Finnish national Institute of Health and Welfare along with the University of Helsinki
ran the research. Under the microscope were the sleeping patterns and the behavior
of 280 healthy seven and eight year olds.
The simple question was the following: Are healthy children who get too little sleep
more likely to display the symptoms generally associated with ADD/ADHD? The
simple answer: Absolutely!
Researchers measured the sleeping patterns of the children who participated in the
study in two ways, one subjective and the other objective. For the "subjective"
section parents were asked to complete a panel of questions regarding their
children's daily sleep habits.
In addition to that they tried to note how long the children slept each night for seven
straight days. This was done by asking them to wear actigraphs (movement
measurers) to determine how long they actually rested for.
Parents were to also note other areas of their child's behavior besides sleep using a
commonly used method in diagnosing ADD/ADHD. The results of this research strike
a powerful blow for common sense. It can be summarized as follows:
- Most parents seriously overestimate the time that their children actually rest. The
time when they are trying to fall alseep or are just laying there are not taken into
Those with an average nightly sleep of less than 7.7 hours scored higher in hyper and
impulsive behavior when measured by the monitors. Being labeled ADD/ADHD is the
more likely scenario.
This study is one of the first that actually confirms something all parents know
almost instinctively: Lack of sleep leads to little Johnny 'acting out' the next morning!
If this continues over a few weeks a trend gets established and Johnny is at serious
risk of being labeled as ADD/ADHD!
Dr. Juulia Paavonen who was in charge of the study lays her finger securely on both
this problem and its solution: "We were able to show that short sleep duration and
sleeping difficulties are related to behavioral symptoms of ADHD.
The results showed that keeping a normal sleep schedule for children plays a major
part in avoiding many of the behavioral symtoms. Just an extra half hour each night
for a child has show results in better behavior."
With all of the things mentioned a parent on top of things should always look at the
sleep patterns of their child before venturing into the ADD/ADHD world. It is difficult to
pin an exact figure on 'enough' as the amount of sleep needed for optimum
performance will differ from person to person.
Eight hours and more should nonetheless be seen as a very good benchmark to
work from. It is likely that your child will need more sleep than this, but it is unlikely
that he or she will need less.
Helping children to 'make the numbers' when it comes to sleep can be very difficult
but it is a discipline that you will have to learn. A bit of planning and the establishment
of a firm bedtime routine could help you in this regard. The results of experiencing
good behavior is a large payoff.
It could even be that paying attention to sleeping patterns is the one thing that helps
you to avoid the radical and life changing consequences of a formal ADD/ADHD
diagnosis. So next time you deal with problems of hyperactivity and impulsiveness
your first response should perhaps be to 'sleep on it' before doing anything else!
About The Author
My name is and I am the author of the world-wide best selling book, "3
Steps To Conquering ADD." I have prepared 4 Videos that show you how to
eliminate your ADD ADHD Naturally. I have also created an ADD ADHD Test
(self-test). To Claim your free videos and test go here --> .
The real root cause of ADD/ADHD has
been looked at in our past articles is
misdiagnosis. The bottom line of
much of that was said is that it is
very important to look deeper for
other possible answers to the
symptoms resembling ADD before
just accepting diagnosis. This is
because it is, sadly, often the case
that those making a positive results
have something to get from it.
There are a few instances in which
ADD/ADHD has been misapplied to a
child because of an extreme cause
such as a bacterial infection that
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