Sleep and I are good friends. In fact, I’ve known sleep about as long as I can remember. I’m so fond of sleep, we bond every night over a pillow and pleasant dreams. Maybe that’s why I keep coming back to the topic. I think a healthy relationship with sleep is a huge key to students’ success in the classroom. Research has proven that delta sleep—the deep, slow-wave, rejuvenating sleep—is essential for proper growth as well as physical and intellectual development.
Now, Vatsal G. Thakkar, clinical assistant professor of psychiatry at the NYU School of Medicine, ponders whether diagnoses of ADHD are missing an important culprit: sleep disorders resulting in a lack of sleep, specifically delta sleep. As Professor Thakkar sees it, a large number of diagnoses of ADHD in children may actually be the result of poor sleep, sometimes beginning in infancy.
I keep coming back to the topic of sleep. Every group of students that came through my classroom told me about their sleep habits at some point during the year. Night owls were often deemed the coolest by their peers. Were these night owls lethargic? Prone to “zoning out”? No. They were often hyperactive, unfocused, and forgetful. I did all I could to encourage more sleep, as I do with my own children.
Do you struggle with sleep-deprived students? Share your stories and opinions on students’ sleep habits and the diagnosis of ADHD right here.