Targeting sleep and anxiety problems in children with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) may improve their symptoms and outcomes, a psychology expert told the APS Congress, held in Melbourne, 13-16 September 2016.
Dr Emma Sciberras, a clinical psychologist senior lecturer in psychology at Deakin University and honorary research fellow at the Murdoch Childrens Research Institute (MCRI), says psychological strategies to treat sleep and anxiety problems are being trialled to see if they improve ADHD symptoms, such as inattention, hyperactivity and impulsivity, while boosting children’s daily functioning and their overall quality of life.
ADHD is a common neurodevelopmental disorder, affecting about 300,000 young people in Australia. Research shows anxiety affects up to 64% of children with ADHD while sleep difficulties affect up to 70% of children with ADHD but the two common problems are often not identified.
“Behavioural interventions might be tried first if symptoms are mild and not causing too much of a problem. We do know that if symptoms are extreme that stimulant medication can be considered too, which can help to manage the main symptoms of ADHD,” she says.
Thriving in the digital age requires making the most of our ability to connect but avoiding overload, according to the Australian Psychological Society, which has released tips for evading the pitfalls of the online world for Psychology Week 2017.
“Social media has become a really important means of communicating and is basically integral to most of our lives in one form or other,” says APS psychologist [insert name]. “However, we have also seen it affect people’s behaviour in some less than positive ways.
“Disagreeing and name calling have become common online and that behaviour can easily become anti-social drifting into trolling, stalking or cyberbullying, while constant notifications can leave us anxious and distracted.”
APS psychologist Kelly Callaghan says a few simple strategies can help ensure you have a positive experience online and you aren’t being ruled by your technology.
8 tips for a healthy digital life
- Check less: Change your email and social media settings so you don’t get constant notifications, and limit when you check to certain times of the day.
- Take care when posting: Think about the impact of your online behaviour on your own or others’ health and do your bit to create a positive online social environment.
- Take an active role: Create an online world tailored to your interests and values. Seek out social connections that boost your wellbeing rather than undermine it, just as you would offline.
- Block the bullies: Be selective about who you involve in your social networks, and ensure your online social network enriches your life.
- Maintain perspective: When you’re genuine on social media you’re less stressed and feel better connected. So avoid competing within your network and be authentic instead.
- Set boundaries around work: Unless your work involves being on-call, consider turning off email notifications outside of work hours.
- Guard your sleep: Turning off all screens, including phones, computers and television, at least an hour before bed.
- Connect offline: those who mindfully engage with people and connect with their environment are healthier and enjoy a greater sense of wellbeing.
For more resources including articles go to www.compassforlife.org.au. The APS invites Australians to participate in Psychology Week by hosting or attending events, sharing their own successful #waystothrive via social media, as well as downloading and sharing resources and content from this site.
Adolescents are sleeping less then 20 years ago even though sleep needs remain just as vital to health and well-being for teenagers as when they were younger. It turns out that many teenagers actually may need more sleep than in previous years. However, for many teenagers, social pressures and screen time conspire against getting the proper amount and quality of sleep. This can result in an accumulated sleep debt which needs to be cleared by sleeping in on weekends – much to the frustration of parents.
Your circadian rhythms, or “body clock”, sync many of your bodily functions during sleep; including hormone release, appetite, immune system, brain development and learning. Big shifts in your sleep timing are like being in a constant state of jetlag.
Sleep has consequences for appetite and weight regulation, the cardiovascular system, immune system endocrine system and brain development. In particular; REM sleep (the dreaming stage) is associated with the release of BDNF which in simple terms, is the growth of new neurones which is associated with learning.
How do you achieve a good night’s sleep? Psychologists talk about ‘sleep hygiene’ but another way to think of this is ‘sleep habits’. Interventions for the adolescent population typically include:
- Sleep hygiene: reduce stimulating night time activities, including screens, movies and games
- Caffeine, sugary drinks and some foods can all stimulate our brain, so these should be avoided before bedtime.
- Dim the lights to encourage the brain to slow down.
- Sleep restriction (ie, limiting time in bed based on how long one actually sleeps) to create more positive associations with sleeping and a greater physiological pressure for sleep.
- Furthermore, using the bed for sleep only and removing one’s self from bed if unable to sleep are important aspects of this intervention.
- If you have problems falling asleep, go to bed when you’re tired and make sure to get up at about the same time every day. Try to keep this routine on the weekend and even after a night of poor sleep.
- Relaxation techniques such as progressive muscle relaxation, deep breathing, and guided imagery have also been found to reduce sleep problems. In addition, negative cognitions associated with sleep (eg; “I must get 8 hours of sleep or I will not be able to function”) are targeted.