Greetings Community and Happy New Year!

Have You Slept Well This Year?

‘Hope you all had a restful and restorative holiday season. I had an interesting holiday (too long a story for here) with many of the normal trimmings including our typical Christmas Day Dinner at my parents’ with enough food for thirty people (and there were only nine of us this year). On the heels of all that feasting, I have gotten very curious about some of the corollaries between ADHD and obesity and sleep.

There are several hypotheses I discovered about the link between obesity and ADHD. Google ADHD + obesity and you’ll find more than you will care to read. Some of the hypotheses expressed include:

  • a couple of different versions of the dopamine connection
  • the pure tendency to overeat and not be aware of the quantity
  • a pure level of emotional eating due to stress and anxiety.

However, the one that I am currently curious about is one that may be ‘sneaking through the back door’ and that is around sleep and its effect on obesity. As many of us know, our clients struggle with their circadian rhythm as well as a host of other sleep challenges. Read on if you are curious.

New Ponderings on ADHD and Sleep

I am always excited when I have new things to ponder. I am reading “NurtureShock: New Thinking About Children.” In my interpretation, the second chapter highlights the negative health effects on children who sleep less than eight hours a night. To me the research results on the effects of less sleep are dramatic! This is not a book on ADHD however the part I got really excited about was the explanation of a neuroendocrine cascade which links sleep to weight and hunger. Neuroendocrine cells are specialized nerve cells that produce hormones and secrete them into the bloodstream. A neuroendocrine cascade in my definition is a domino effect of interrelated hormone secretions, each output affecting and influencing the output of the next.

According to a study by Dr. Eve Van Cauter of the University of Chicago in October of 2008 on how sleep affects metabolism, this is the neuroendocrine cascade that occurs:

1. “Sleep loss increases the hormone ghrelin, which signals hunger, and decreases its metabolic opposite, leptin, which suppresses appetite.

    2. Sleep loss also elevates the stress hormone cortisol. Cortisol is lipogenic, meaning it stimulates your body to make fat.

    3. Human growth hormone is also disrupted. Normally secreted as a single big pulse at the beginning of sleep, growth hormone is essential for the breakdown of fat.”

    In my opinion, this relationship obviously is very important to children’s health and the secretion release is stronger in children than in adults due to the nature of the type of sleep children experience.

    Amazingly, the authors of Nurture Shock conclude that the rise in childhood obesity links to less sleep, not more sedentary behavior such as watching TV or playing video games. According to what I’ve read, the authors allude to a void in valid research that supports the claim to watching TV as being the downfall of the human form, which I found shocking! There is plenty of research now that ties the reduction in sleep to the massive weight increase in children as well as the rise in childhood diabetes. In some studies it showed that little kids who get less than eight hours of sleep have about a three hundred percent higher rate of obesity than those who get ten hours. This study was recreated in multiple countries ¬ not just the United States. For middle and high school students the odds of obesity went up eighty percent for each hour of lost sleep.

    So I’m wondering about ADHD people who are so hyper-reactive to their own bodies/chemicals – could this all be a real issue, even for adults? As we know, our clients frequently struggle with sleep. Could sleep issues be a hidden link between ADHD and being overweight? I wonder. What do you think?

    Reaching out,

    Ian King, President