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Is ADHD a Sleep Disorder? Stimulant Drug Improves Symptoms

In the never-ending pursuit to discover the cause of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), some researchers are suggesting that ADHD may be nothing more than a sleep disorder. In support of this theory, New Scientist offers examples of when a drug for narcolepsy and excessive daytime sleepiness also worked to combat ADHD. On the other hand, the drugs didn’t boost patients’ sleep or reduce daytime sleepiness.

It’s slightly confusing as to how these findings indicate that ADHD is a sleep disorder, if the drugs don’t always work for sleep problems, particularly when other research shows that people with ADHD may have altered brain function not necessarily connected with sleep. Besides that, ADHD has long been diagnosed primarily by subjective measures, and without an objective test or measure, the potential for over-diagnosis or misdiagnosis is high — by some estimates as much as by 20 percent.

It’s also confusing why scientists are continuing to look for new drugs to treat ADHD when studies are showing that lifestyle and environmental factors may influence symptoms more than we realize. Considering the risks of ADHD drugs, and their lackluster performance in improving symptoms, there’s good reason to look outside of the pharmaceutical box when it comes to ADHD treatment.

If your child is struggling with ADHD or ADHD-like symptoms, I recommend consulting with a holistic physician who is experienced in treating ADHD using natural methods. You’ll want to be sure, however, that your child is getting regular physical activity on a daily basis. This simple intervention has been compared to medication for ADHD, as it leads to improvement in executive control, which is the ability to maintain focus, working memory and cognitive flexibility (or switching between tasks).

There are many other natural options to add to your arsenal as well, like vetiver oil (vetiver is a type of Indian grass). In fact, in one study, when children inhaled the oil three times a day for 30 days they had improved brain wave patterns and behavior and did better in school.
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