Know some geeks who can’t sleep? Please share this post with them. It might help.
Our monthly Adult ADHD Salon in Palo Alto ran late Wednesday night, as usual.
(Call me an ADHD nerd, but this group is the social highlight of my month. We have fascinating conversations and it’s always great to cheer progress reports.)
So, I was a little fuzzy-headed the next morning when I read this story in our local paper: “The Quantified Self: Taking quantum leap in self-examination.” [article is no longer online]
- It caught my attention, because one immense challenge with ADHD is self-monitoring. This poses a liability when you are trying to figure out, for example:How you landed in certain surprising circumstances
- How you come across to others
- What you ate for breakfast
- And even if you’re following through on a routine you’ve set for yourself.
Leave it to Silicon Valley’s geeks then (including the ones who might have ADHD but don’t know it) to come up with an entire self-monitoring movement where, as the story explains:
Individuals measure the minutia of moods, weight, pain, muscle mass, even their innermost thoughts, in an effort to know themselves better and improve their lives.
All this sounds great; we can’t hit targets without first identifying them. But without bringing neurophysiological information to bear, this amassed minutiae might have its limits. After all, being software-savvy does not translate to being neuroscience-savvy.
Bo Adler is a leader in this geek elite “Quantified Self “movement. The story begins by relating how conventional medicine has offered no good treatment for his long-standing sleep problems:
So when young computer scientist goes to bed each night, he conducts his own one-man research study, determined to find secrets to restful slumber.…
Interpreting the data from his Sunnyvale apartment, the Cal Tech-educated Adler seeks to identify lifestyle factors — Pepsi? Worry? A girlfriend’s visit? — that might correlate with restlessnss.
“Doctors just follow the recipe books. That is not helpful,” he said. “Everybody is different. Maybe there are things that are specific about me.”
Sleep Is a Newly Burgeoning Science
Sleep is a complex subject, especially in this Age of Distraction. And it is only in recent years that we are making important discoveries about why we sleep.
Adler sets an example for us all by playing a pro-active role in monitoring and managing his own health. A good physician requires data.
But what if your sleep challenges aren’t specific to you but instead are specific to a large subset of people with ADHD? (I wrote about this topic in this blog post, To Sleep, Perchance to Turn Off That *&$@#” Computer,” which drew many validating comments.)
I agree with Adler that “conventional doctors” aren’t always so helpful in such matters. That’s especially true if they have no clue about the connection between ADHD and sleep challenges—and even some alleged ADHD experts remain clueless. The typical “sleep hygiene” tips just don’t always work with untreated ADHD. (Don’t get me started about the Stanford Sleep Clinic’s seemingly willful denial of ADHD-related sleep challenges. For a very long time, the clinic has been more likely to attribute ADHD symptoms to sleep deprivation.)
(Note: Please be sure to read Adler’s comment below for clarification; and you can read his “Suggestions for Sleep Apnea Self-Experiment”)
The question remains: Will sleeping with electrodes affixed to one’s head and analyzing the resulting database provide all the necessary answers? When it comes to possible ADHD, possibly not— if contributing neurogenetic factors, aren’t considered.
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