Category: Sleep

ADHD Treatment & Sleep: 5 Ways that Wilderness Therapy Can Help

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The Relationship Between ADHD and Sleep: How Wilderness Therapy Can Help with Treatment

Our minds do not turn off at bedtime, so it should be no surprise that many children suffering from ADHD also suffer from some form of sleep disorder. For those who are excessively hyperactive, impulsive, and restless, getting to sleep and staying asleep proves more difficult than it is for most. Wilderness therapy offers the opportunity to correct sleeping habits and eliminate sleep issues, and in doing so is an effective form of ADHD Treatment.

Nearly half of all children and young adults suffering from ADHD report experiencing sleep difficulties of some kind. Many of the symptoms and behavioral issues that are associated with ADHD also overlap with a variety of sleep disorders, making diagnosis difficult. While more research needs to be conducted to determine the precise relationship between ADHD and sleep disorders, it has consistently been shown that there is a connection. Sleep disorders, such as sleep apnea, restless leg syndrome, and night terrors, are more commonly present in children and teens with ADHD, and treating one may help to treat the other.

Teens and young adults suffering from ADHD often have difficulty:

    • Going to bed
    • Falling asleep
    • Staying asleep
    • Waking up feeling refreshed

Managing both ADHD and sleep disorders requires behavioral and lifestyle changes.

Children with ADHD are more active during the night, and as a result have trouble performing regular daily tasks. Poor sleep can worsen the child’s daily behavior, and poor behavior can lead to trouble sleeping. Fortunately, there are many ways to manage the effects that a poor night’s rest may have on a person’s ADHD. Part of what is achieved in wilderness therapy is correcting sleep problems, which in turn helps to correct the negative behaviors that a tired teen exhibits.

Wilderness therapy works to address sleep problems associated with ADHD by introducing new habits and lifestyle changes.

Wilderness Therapy builds better sleep habits through such things as:

      1. Physical Activity. Exercise is a treatment for both ADHD and sleep disorders, and wilderness therapy is tough work. Hiking, carrying equipment, and setting up camp is a physical challenge. This helps both getting to sleep and sleep quality, as well as getting rid of the built-up energy and hyperactivity that develops due to inactivity. It is important to note that physical exercise immediately before bedtime can actually promote alertness, so exercise is best done earlier in the day.
      2. Holistic Diet. Diet directly influences the ability to sleep and plays an important role in managing ADHD symptoms. For instance, sugar and caffeine consumed before bed make sleeping difficult and only worsen feelings of hyperactivity and restlessness. Maintaining a healthy, holistic diet can be one of the simplest ways of managing ADHD and eliminating sleep problems.
      3. Cognitive Behavior Therapy. Wilderness therapy employs the CBT model, which is founded on the notion that behaviors and interactions are influenced by the way we think: A positive change in our thoughts can positively impact our actions. In some cases, a person’s ADHD and difficulty sleeping stem from a mind that cannot turn off its thoughts of worry and fear. CBT teaches methods to help individuals transform their thought patterns and manage the feelings of anxiety that hinder their ability to fall sleep.
      4. Natural light therapy. Behavioral problems associated with sleep disorders and ADHD can be the result of a biological clock that is out of time. Camping in the wilderness resets this clock by using the natural sleep-wake cycle to align the body’s circadian rhythms. This natural cycle revolves around the rising and setting of the sun, which works to regulate the body’s release of melatonin—the hormone responsible for regulating sleep.
      5. Sleep Hygiene. This is the concept of having healthy bedtime routines and practices. Having good sleep hygiene means having a consistent routine free from sleep distractions—i.e. video games, televisions, computers. Wilderness therapy helps to develop healthy sleep and bedtime practices that participants can continue to practise when they return home.

As research expands, the link between sleep disorders and ADHD is becoming better understood. What is known is that addressing sleep issues can drastically improve the symptoms associated with ADHD. Wilderness therapy works as a treatment for ADHD by tackling the underlying factors that contribute to it, which in many cases are issues related to difficulty sleeping. Better sleep makes for better behavior.

To learn about wilderness therapy as an effective ADHD Treatment, contact Rites of Passage (800)794-0980.

Camping as Natural Sleep Deprivation Solution

Wilderness Therapy for Depression in Seattle

Trouble Sleeping? Try Camping as a Natural Sleep Deprivation Solution!

Adopting a natural sleep cycle is crucial for those battling behavioral, psychological, and substance-abuse issues. Naturally the sun regulates our normal sleep cycle, but in our modern lives this sleep pattern is disrupted by overexposure to artificial light and electronics. New research suggests that sleeping outdoors can improve the quality of sleep by resetting the internal clock, thus helping to alleviate many of the issues that stem from improper sleep and thus an effective and natural sleep deprivation solution.

Overexposure to artificial light disrupts natural sleep patterns.

Electric light has transformed the way we live, allowing us both to work indoors and far into the night. Overexposure to artificial light, like the kind that comes from TVs, computer screens, or video game devices, disrupts the natural sleep cycle by altering the body’s release of melatonin.

Melatonin—the “night hormone”—regulates the sleep cycle. Naturally, melatonin levels increase when the sun begins to set, preparing our bodies for sleep. In the early morning when the sun begins to rise, these levels taper off, allowing the body to wake up refreshed.

Our current lifestyles have altered this natural cycle. When these levels remain high in the early morning, as they do when a person does not adhere to these natural patterns, it makes it difficult to wake up energized and negatively contributes to many behavioral and psychological problems.

Negative sleep patterns can contribute to:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Stress
  • ADHD
  • Weight management issues
  • Oppositional defiant disorder (ODD)
  • Substance abuse

Research has shown that camping can reset the natural internal clock.

A recent study published in Clinical Biology highlights that sleeping outdoors can improve the quality of sleep by resetting the natural internal clock.

Professor Kenneth Wright Jr., a sleep researcher in the Department of Integrative Physiology at the University of Boulder in Colorado, found that after just a short time camping, the internal clock naturally resets—drastically improving the quality of sleep.

Participants of the study had their melatonin levels monitored for one week of normal daily life, and for one week of camping. Wright found that after just one week of sleeping outdoors, melatonin levels began to rise and fall in sync with the natural light-dark cycle.

Using sunlight and campfires as the only sources of light, participants were exposed to more than 400 percent of the normal daily intake. What this research revealed was that the internal clocks of the participants had been re-calibrated to take the natural cues from the sun. After a week of camping, the body naturally shifts the release of melatonin to earlier in the day, closer to sundown. Participants did not get more sleep, but rather a better quality sleep based on the timing of when melatonin levels peak and fall.

According to Wright, “light provides a time cue that syncs our internal clock to the external environment,” allowing for a better coordination of our daily behavior, such as when we eat, sleep and perform at our best.

Wilderness Therapy syncs the internal clock with the external reality.

When teens and young adults participate in a Wilderness Therapy program, through camping their natural circadian rhythms reset after just a short time. In this approach to treatment, they see an added health benefit that is not present in a strictly traditional treatment model.

Healthy sleep patterns facilitate the ability to treat and manage the issues that these teens and young adults face. In this natural setting, participants use the sunrise and sunset to signify when it is time to get up and wind-down for the night. Hormone levels become regulated, allowing for treatment to address the underlying issues associated with behavioral, psychological or substance-abuse problems.

This increased exposure to sunlight while camping can reduce the physiological, cognitive and health consequences associated with the disruption of our natural internal clock. Wilderness therapy provides the setting for those battling certain problems to reset their internal clocks, helping them to take the steps toward improving their health and learning to self-manage their issues.

For more information about camping as a natural sleep deprivation solution and Wilderness Therapy, call Rites of Passage Wilderness Therapy at (800)794-0980.

“Staying Grounded” with Wilderness Therapy

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How Sleeping and Walking on the Ground can Improve Your Health

The Earth has the ability to naturally heal the body. “Grounding,” a relatively new concept, is the practice of using the Earth’s natural electrical energy to re-balance the body simply by coming in direct contact with it through exercises and treatments such as Wilderness Therapy.

What is Grounding?

Grounding, also known as Earthing, is the practice of balancing the electrical frequency of the human body with that of the Earth. It works by absorbing the negatively charged electrons from the Earth to neutralize the over abundance of free radicals within the body.

By coming in direct contact with the Earth through a conductive material, such as sand, dirt, or grass, the body is able to soak up the free electrons within the Earth’s surface and use them to balance the positive electrons within the body.

Earthing can be achieved a number of ways, with new products — such as a grounding mat --- constantly being developed to aid in this. The easiest way to practice grounding, however, is simply to walk, sit, stand or lie directly on the earth. After just a few minutes, the body will begin to realign itself to this frequency, resulting in a variety of health benefits.

Coming in contact with the Earth’s electrical energy promotes health and well-being.

This practice has had a long-standing reputation for healing, but only recently has had the science to back it up. In the book, Earthing: the most important health discovery ever?, written by Dr. Stephen Sinatra, Clinton Ober and Martin Zucker, there is compelling evidence to support the practice.

The benefits of grounding include:

  • Improved sleep
  • Reduced stress and anxiety
  • Detoxify the body of free radicals such as heavy metals and pollution
  • Decreased pain
  • Rebalanced natural circadian rhythms
  • Increase in energy
  • Reduced chronic inflammation

Wilderness Therapy offers the opportunity to get grounded.

In Wilderness Therapy, teens and young adults are constantly practising grounding by hiking, walking, and sleeping outdoors. For those suffering from behavioral, psychological or substance-abuse issues, grounding can aid in overcoming them.

When the natural benefits of grounding are realized, the underlying issues that accompany an individual’s problem can begin to be addressed. By re-balancing the electrical energy within the body, teens and young adults in Wilderness Therapy experience drastic improvements in behaviors and attitudes. For those whose bodies are full of destructive free radicals, simply living in the wilderness setting allows for the kick-start needed to begin the path to achieving health and well-being.