ADHD Cured by a Good Night’s Sleep?

KidSleepingThere are many titles we see floating around about how we can “cure” ADHD. Just now I read a blog fromThe Daily Beast entitled “A Cure for ADHD?,” written by Ashley Merryman. It points out that this ADHD brain type and its related behaviors can be the result of a poor night’s sleep due to sleep apnea. The solution, according to this article, is a surgical procedure which would include a tonsillectomy and adenoidectomy. There was supposedly a study done about it and everything.

Instead of immediately discounting this theory (I will do that later), let’s assume it has some validity, that snoring leads to poor sleep quality, which leads to hyperactivity, which leads to a clinical diagnosis of ADHD. But before we start yanking parts out of our kids unnecessarily, why don’t we look at the things that cause snoring? An article on the Mayo Clinic website lists such things like “alcohol consumption, allergies, a cold, and…(excessive) weight,” among others as being the causes of snoring. The general idea is that snoring is the result of enlarged tonsils and/or sinus tissue.

Now let’s take these common causes, one-by-one, and dissect them, so-to-speak. The first one on the list, alcohol consumption, can be disregarded. We don’t let our children drink alcohol, do we? Colds are temporary. The other two options, allergies and excessive weight, are things over which we can have control. A child’s weight can be modified, and allergies can be alleviated through various methods. I plan to discuss allergies in another blog, soon, particularly food allergies.

Mostly, I feel that the idea that sleep dysfunction causes ADHD is false. If a child can simply get rid of the symptoms with a good night’s sleep, then they didn’t have ADHD in the first place. Here is a quote from an abstract in PubMed.gov: “Recent genetic and neuroimaging studies…provide evidence for separate contributions of altered dopamine (DA) and serotonin (5-HT) function in (ADHD).” Once again, here is information validating the link between genetics and the ADHD brain type, and that it can be the result of multiple causes.

If parents and pediatricians want to get together and discuss surgery to alleviate snoring, that is their option. On the other hand, if they think a tonsillectomy is going to cure ADHD, I’m not a believer. Any surgery that would “cure” an ADHD brain would be much more complicated and would actually involve a brain.

(Image courtesy of Feelart and FreeDigitalPhotos.net)

Comments

  1. I’m always skeptical of anyone who says that one thing will cure a complex illness. Of course, anything like ADHD is going to have different levels in different people. Some marginal cases may be helped by better sleep. But surgery sounds like a big step. Also, snoring is not exactly something one associates with children.

    The dopamine connection is just obvious. Having too much of it will cause someone to by hyper. My guess would be that it works the other way though: ADHA causes a rise in dopamine levels.

    Regardless, people are always looking for simple solutions. There are rarely simple solutions.

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