Buried in this wonderful feature in New Yorker about how most of us have been short on sleep since childhood, suffering "a kind of constant jet lag—and one that is exacerbated by sleeping in on the weekends," this interesting idea: maybe part of the reason we're seeing so many ADHD diagnoses in young people now is they're all sleep-deprived.
The New Yorker's Maria Konnikova cites Judith Owens, the director of the Center for Pediatric Sleep Disorders at Boston Children's Hospital on what happens when we don't get enough good quality sleep:
Executive function and emotional responses get worse, hurting everything from judgment to emotional reactivity. The ability to make good decisions can suffer, and kids can become more prone to act out and get depressed. In fact, the rise in A.D.H.D. diagnoses may, in part, be the result of inadequate sleep: in children, symptoms of sleep deprivation include hyperactivity and impaired interpretation of social cues. Owens has seen many such misdiagnoses in her clinical practice. The effects are physical, as well. Children who undersleep are more likely to gain weight and become obese. Even for infants as young as six months, amounts of sleep can predict weight gain three years later.
The Walking Dead [Maria Konnikova, New Yorker]