Can sunlight calm hyperactive kids?

By Casey Frye, CCNN Writer

sunny kid
Ahhh, that peaceful sunlight.

Individuals who suffer from attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) usually experience trouble focusing on tasks, act without thinking, and are super hyper. Although scientists have reason to believe ADHD is genetic (passed down from our parents), they don’t really know what causes it. However, according to a new study, sunlight could possibly reduce ADHD!

Surprisingly, this isn’t the first time that light has come to the rescue. Sometimes, when we’re exposed to different levels of brightness throughout the day, our circadian rhythms (the internal clock that tells us when to sleep and wake up) can get really out of sync with nature, making it difficult to sleep. According to a study completed back in 2006, using light to fix circadian rhythms is effective for treating ADHD symptoms.

So, would sunlight itself affect ADHD? Well, researchers recently mapped out the sun exposure several regions receive and then examined their ADHD rates. Interestingly enough, the sunniest places had lower rates of ADHD! However, this discovery raises just about as many questions as it answers.

Dr. John Krystal, Editor of Biological Psychiatry, asks, “Do sunny climates reduce the severity or prevalence of ADHD and if so, how? Do people prone to develop ADHD tend to move away from sunny climates and if so, why?” There’s still a ton of research that needs to be done in order to find out, but that doesn’t mean these results aren’t useful!

According to team member Dr. Martijn Arns, one place to start making some changes is in our everyday technology. He thinks phone, tablet, and personal computer manufacturing companies should look into color screens that adjust their brightness throughout the day. That way, by the time evening sets in, people’s eyes – especially those with ADHD – aren’t exposed to excess light that’ll mess up their internal clocks. Also, school classrooms could possibly get rid of industrial light bulbs and install skylights to let in those yummy solar rays.

Featured image courtesy of Mish Bradley on Flickr. Image of child in sunlight courtesy of tourist_on_earth on Flickr.