You wouldn’t want to have to make that choice for children. Many children diagnosed with ADHD are prescribed medications to help with the symptoms. Some popular medications in use are Ritalin, Concerta and Adderall. These medications are helping some people. The drug companies themselves are listing sleep problems as a possible side effect.
According to a November 23, 2015 online article in Pediatrics, research analysis led by Katherine Kidwell of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln found that children given stimulants tended to have sleep problems more often. One of the studies compared the sleep of children given methylphenidate (generic Ritalin) with children given a placebo. The children who took the generic Ritalin slept an average of 20 minutes less per night. They also found that taking a stimulant medication more often during the day caused a child to take longer to fall asleep at night.
Dr. Trevor Resnick, who is chief of pediatric neurology at Nicklaus Children’s Hospital in Miami says that it is extremely important that all children get a good night’s sleep for healthy brain development. It is his belief that only a small percentage of children will develop problems related to ADHD medications though.
I believe based on experience and reading that many attention problems may be due to poor sleep. If the brain is tired it is not going to work as efficiently. It is harder to learn, focus, and pay attention when you are sleep deprived. Some problems are due to children not getting enough sleep. This can be caused by going to bed too late. As Dr. Michael Thompson of the ADD Centre in Toronto Canada says, another problem is that before many kids go to bed they are watching stimulating TV programs and playing stimulating video games. When they finally do go to bed their brains are still too stimulated for quality sleep for some time. Most children also have to wake up very early to get to school on time. That doesn’t help things either. Now this research review is showing that the medications intended to improve attention and hyperactivity symptoms may cause sleep problems in some of the children they are intended to help.
Many parents are now seeking alternatives methods of helping their children with ADHD symptoms. Neurofeedback therapy is one option. Neurofeedback uses EEG biofeedback instruments that measure and feedback the electrical signals from the brain. The information is fed back in a way that helps a person learn how to regulate their brain activity. Some of the brainwaves are slower like the ones that are present more during sleep. Others are faster like the ones present more while solving a math problem. The power of these waves are sometimes out of balance in people with ADHD. Neurofeedback can help a person learn how to rebalance these brainwaves. This can lead to improvement in symptoms.
For listings of certified neurofeedback providers visit www.bcia.org and click on the consumers tab and select find a practitioner. If you are interested in becoming a provider you can visit our website and start by taking a free online introduction to neurofeedback course here: http://biofeedbackinternational.com/free.htm
Harry L. Campbell
President, Biofeedback Resources International
Author of the book “What Stress Can Do”