UNPUBLISHED LETTER TO OBSERVER ABOUT THE IMPACT OF PSYCHO-STIMULANTS ON CHILDRENS' SLEEP.
We as a multi-professional public pressure group, including politicians which promotes childrens’ Mental Health and Wellbeing agree wholeheartedly with the sentiments of the recent (13-01-19) article,’Sleep deprived pupils need extra hour in bed,'etc.,by Harriet Sherwood and the included quote by Russel Viner, professor of adolescent health at University College London that,”Sleep is the “strongest predictor of wellbeing among teenagers.”
Many schools in the U.K. and different societies who are creatively tackling behavioural difficulties and rates of exclusion in adolescents have experimented with ‘late starts’ to allow a more natural ‘wake up time,’ with beneficial outcomes on both issues.
One paradoxical intervention that we would like to challenge is that the preferred treatment for children who have received a diagnosis of ADHD in the U.K., currently, is to prescribe amphetamine-like psycho-stimulants such as Ritalin. This class of drugs has a commonly occurring side effect of significant ‘sleep disturbance’ that has to be countered by the issuing of a second drug, usually melatonin, to promote better sleep. We all know as parents and professionals that sleep disturbance damages a child’s mood and makes them quickly irritable etc which may increase signs of an ADHD like pattern. We think this is a nonsensical systemic failure whilst pursuing the wellbeing of children and needs to be urgently reviewed particularly for children under the age of six and the adolescent population identified in this excellent article.
Dave Traxson, Chair of C.A.L.M. (Child-friendly Alternatives to Labelling & psychiatric Medications)
Professor Peter Kinderman, Clinical Psychology, at Liverpool University and Vice chair of C.A.L.M. and ex-President of the BPS.
Professor Sue Roffey, Emotional Wellbeing of Children, School of Education at Exeter University.
Dr Brian Apter, Ex-chair of the Division of Educational and Child Psychology of the British Psychological Society.
Yvonne Monaghan, Safeguarding Lead of Nurture UK.