A SPECIAL REPORT FROM THE INSTITUTE FOR THE STUDY OF CULTUROGENIC DISEASE
"It has been known that Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) is caused by sleep position. Now, medical anthropologists have discovered that changing the way a child sleeps can dramatically improve ADHD, according to a preliminary study just completed by the Institute. The study involved 10 children, ages 5-16, who had been labeled ADHD, and involved having the children sleep with the top half of their bodies elevated on an incline between 20-30 degrees. After one month of sleeping this way, all 10 showed dramatic and significant improvement in attitude and behavior, and 8 of the children were able to completely go off of medication.
According to the principal investigators, medical anthropologists Sydney Ross Singer and Soma Grismaijer, the purpose of the study was to determine whether improved brain circulation could help children with ADHD, which has been associated with brain congestion, sinus congestion, middle ear infections, migraines, and sleep disorders. Head elevation while sleeping has been shown to eliminate these problems by allowing better brain and head circulation.
"It has to do with the effect of gravity on the brain", Singer explains. "The circulation in the head and brain is different when we are vertical, or standing, than when we are horizontal, or lying down. Essentially, people are sleeping too flat, congesting the brain and causing various problems. Raising the head while sleeping allows better brain drainage and overall circulation, and seems to eliminate these problems."
Singer and Grismaijer recently wrote, Get It Up! Revealing the Simple Surprising Lifestyle that Causes Migraines, Alzheimer's, Stroke, Glaucoma, Sleep Apnea, Impotence, and More (ISCD Press, 2000), which describes their research showing the importance of head elevation while sleeping. Through further research, they discovered a side effect of head elevation was the loss of ADHD problems. The preliminary study just completed confirmed that head elevation quickly and significantly improves child behavior.
"Perhaps we can lift kids up, instead of drug them up," Grismaijer hopes. While the results are preliminary and of a relatively small group, Singer and Grismaijer wish to encourage parents to have their children try this simple sleep change. Methods of elevation include using a wedge, pillows, bed blocks, an adjustable bed, or a recliner chair.
For more information, contact Sydney Ross Singer or Soma Grismaijer at: 808-935-5563, or go to their website, at
Gravity, Learn to live with it, because you can't live without it!
Timothy E. Wilens, MD
Chief, Division of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry
Co-Director, Center for Addiction Medicine
Massachusetts General Hospital
Harvard Medical School
Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is one of the most common neurodevelopmental disorders in children, which affected approximately 11% of children aged 4 to 17 years of age (6.4 million) in 2011.1 ADHD is often diagnosed in childhood and lasts into adulthood in approximately 65% to 75% of cases.2 A recent systematic literature review suggests that the annual incremental costs for the disorder in the United States are between $143 and $266 billion dollars.3
Despite improvements with the drug delivery systems of ADHD medications, early morning functioning (EMF) remains an issue in many children with ADHD. According to a recent survey, the majority of caregivers reported early morning ADHD symptoms (74%) and EMF impairment (76%) as moderate to severe (ADHD symptom score: 5-10).4 Parents reported that they often: felt overwhelmed and exhausted (41%); raised their voice more (37%); and felt constantly stressed (30%) as a result of their child’s ADHD symptoms during the EMR.4 It was also noted that 79% of caregivers had discussed early morning impairments with their child’s physician.4 In light of these figures, a number of coping strategies, including nonpharmacologic and pharmacologic interventions, have been developed. Therefore, it is important for healthcare professionals to become more aware that the early morning is problematic for children with ADHD and their families.
1. Visser SN, Danielson ML, Bitsko RH, Holbrook JR, Kogan MD, Ghandour RM, Perou R, Blumberg SJ. Trends in the parent-report of health care provider-diagnosed and medicated attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder: United States, 2003–2011. J Am Acad Child Adolesc Psychiatry. 2014;53(1):34-46.
2. Wilens TE, Faraone SV, Biederman J. Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder in adults. JAMA. 2004;292(5):619-623.
3. Doshi JA, Hodgkins P, Kahle J, Sikirica V, Cangelosi MJ, Setyawan J, Erder MH, Neumann PJ. Economic impact of childhood and adult attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder in the United States. J Am Acad Child Adolesc Psychiatry. 2012;51(10):990-1002.
4. Sallee FR. Early morning functioning in stimulant-treated children and adolescents with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, and its impact on caregivers. J Child Adolesc Psychopharmacol. 2015;25(7):558-565.