A new Canadian study analyzes the sleep habits from children age 1.5 to 5 years looking for an association between sleep problems and the development of ADHD. The study confirms something I have been pointing out for a number of years – that an unstable family sets the “stress thermostat” into a hyper-vigilant mode resulting in a lack of sleep, wired nerves, and future ADHD. Boys with early sleep problems were more likely to be ADHD by age 5.

I have covered all the technical reasons for this in an earlier feature-length article on teenagers, “Teen Sleep Problems Lead to Depression and Drug Abuse.” This new study confirms that the teenage problems likely have a very early start in the environmental brain programming of a child.

In one word, the solution is STABILITY. The more stable the environment for a child the less likely they are to learn the wrong lesson of setting their stress system to a hyper mode. The importance of this is that brain wiring in these earlier years is more like computer hardware than software – experiences that govern behavior and solutions in future years.

The problem of instability affects boys more strongly than girls, likely because of the effects of estrogen on the brain wiring of girls (higher antioxidant and basic relaxation status). Thus, girls seem more able to handle an unstable early environment without becoming hyper-programmed.

Testosterone wiring of the brain in boys has less antioxidant capacity and is more prone to inflammation. Testosterone is also more suitable to self-oriented and competitive survival impulses. In a sense you could say that ADHD behavior is an example of testosterone gone bad.

Regardless, too much stress in the family is a major problem for the brain wiring of boys. Since high stress is common in families these days, strategies should be employed to reduce the impact of stress on children. Don’t argue in front of your kids. Have consistent family times and activities that convey a sense of stability to your children (like family dinners and a weekly family outing). Involve them in as many creative and constructive learning activities as possible (both mental and physical). Nutrition to calm nerves is always helpful for stress and sleep (B-vitamins, DHA, calcium, and magnesium are the basics.) Good parenting is a major responsibility.

There are other factors that help set the stage for ADHD; leptin problems in the mother, chemical toxins, excessive numbers of brain-inflammatory immunizations, and poor diet – to name a few. However, the environmental impact on the developing nervous system is significant and affects the future health and well-being of your child for a lifetime.

Author's Bio: 

Byron J. Richards, Founder/Director of Wellness Resources, Inc., is a Board-Certified Clinical Nutritionist and a world renowned natural health expert. Richards is the first to explain the relevance of leptin and its link to solving obesity.