Many parents have observed a correlation between over-tiredness and hyperactivity in their young children. What I recently learned and may come as a surprise to many parents out there is how significant an impact poor sleep can have on a child’s behavior and ability to function in school.
At a Pediatric conference I recently attended, one of the speakers was a pediatric sleep specialist. She commented that nearly every child that does a sleep lab study at her clinic is diagnosed with a respiratory sleep disorder (obstructive sleep apnea is an example of the one of the most severe respiratory sleep disorders). For children, a common treatment for snoring and/or obstructive sleep apnea is surgery to remove the tonsils and adenoids. In one study, it was observed that 80% of the children who had surgeries to correct a respiratory sleep disorder who were also on medications for Attention Deficit (and Hyperactivity) Disorder (ADD/ADHD) were completely cured of the ADD/ADHD symptoms and no longer needed their medications after the surgery. That is remarkable evidence that poor sleep (and oxygen deprivation) may cause symptoms of ADD/ADHD in children (and probably adults too)!
As a Naturopathic Doctor, I would hardly go around recommending tonsilectomies to every child who has ADD/ADHD symptoms, but I can work with patients on addressing the root cause of the sleep disorder through other means. Dietary intolerances are perhaps the common denominator–leading to the enlarged tonsils and adenoids that obstruct the airway at night and eventually cause behavior problems and attention deficits. Remove the offending food(s), and the child can avoid surgery and also avoid a misdiagnosis of ADD/ADHD or eliminate the need for medications if previously diagnosed.
I, myself, as well as colleagues have observed first hand the remarkable changes that can happen when a patient eliminates a problem food from their diet. In children, the top offenders tend to be dairy and wheat. In my clinical experience, dairy consumption is very strongly correlated with both enlarged tonsils and ADD/ADHD symptoms. Naturopathic Doctors are well versed in helping patients identify and eliminate foods that may cause symptoms and in some cases, can help patients get back on the right track so that the food can be reintroduced without causing problems. Some children even outgrow food sensitivities (or at least the effects aren’t as severe) after a few years.
If your child suffers from behavior issues, attention deficits, seems tired or groggy more than usual in the mornings, or is hyperactive, consider consulting a Naturopathic Doctor for treatment. At the very least, you should talk to your child’s healthcare provider about sleep and discuss options for diagnosing and treating an underlying sleep disorder.
If you are live in the Puget Sound area, you may visit my clinic website for more information about my practice: www.snovalleyholistic.com
If you live in Washington State outside of the Puget Sound, you can find a naturopathic doctor in your area by visiting the Washington Association of Naturopathic Physicians’ website: www.wanp.org
If you live outside of Washington State, visit the American Association of Naturopathic Physicians’ website to find a Naturopath in your area: www.naturopathic.org