Friday, September 7, 2007

A better cure would be more sleep

When I was "doing" my teacher's licence, I did a presentation to the class about behavior/attention/concentration problems in our students.

My original plan was to show/prove that the modern busy/noisy classroom was at fault.

According to neurologists, only 3-5% of the kids actually have some primary physical reason to be AD/HD. The course was filled with teachers, like myself, who had plenty of classroom experience, but no certification. I asked them what percentage of students in their classes show signs of AD/HD. Most said 30-50%.

I handed them a list of symptoms sans title, and asked them what the symptoms were.

"AD/HD," they all said in unison.
"No," I replied. "Insufficient sleep. Yes, all of the impulsively, memory problems, etc can come from insufficient sleep."

My research had shown that we, and especially our children, are getting 2-4 or more hours less sleep than fifty years ago. There's a heavy physiological, neurological and educational price to this. No medication can cure it.

When I saw this NY Times article about children with bi-polar symptoms, the alarms kept ringing in my head. All the doctors could recommend, according to the article, was heavy and potentially dangerous, psychiatric drugs.

The symptoms described seemed like severe impulsively problems, and that was on my insufficient sleep list.

Maybe it's "easier" for parents to get their kids to pop pills rather than change their life styles, but trying a regime which includes three or more additional hours of sleep per night is healthier for all. The only side effects would be less TV and probably less shopping in the mall.


wendy said...

I read a book recently (The 7 O'Clock Bedtime) that also suggested that not getting enough sleep is the cause of so many problems in our schools.

Such an easy solution.

I should go to bed....

muse said...

That goes for the teachers, also.
Everyone is over-tired, over-stressed and burnt out.

More sleep and a proper breakfast would make those drug companies bankrupt.

sara g said...

as usual, i have to comment. REAL adhd / add will not be solved by sleeping more, eating less sugar, not drinking milk (or a whole list of other things). believe me, we have tried everything.
but it is true that not sleeping enough or eating something you are sensitive to can cause adhd-LIKE symptoms.
one of my children was allergic to milk as a young child, and can get "drunk" from too much sugar. but even on a milk and sugar free diet, still is ADD if not taking meds.
shabat shalom
sara g

muse said...

sara g, of course, you're right, but only about 10% of those with the symptoms have primary type. Most of the others are secondary, caused by insufficient sleep, bad diet, etc. And with some of those, there's neurological damage, so they need the treatment like for primary.

Vicki said...

I agree with you about lack of sleep. I taught special ed/emotionally disturbed/conduct disorder high school students. I would often let a student sleep when they were out of control or having a bad day....often excusing them from several morning classes. I kept a blanket in my little office and the student would literally crash on the floor, on a table, and sleep like a baby. They'd be like a new person when they woke up. ((Did I tell administration? No.))

No one seems to address stessors at home that keep children awake...parents with substance abuse issues, domestic problems, etc. Show me an elementary student who had to listen to adults bicker all night, and I'll show you a child who has poor concentration.

Medication doesn't cure all.

muse said...

vicki, good example

The drug companies have big budgets for marketing and "treats" for the medical world.

Sleep is free, just from G-d...