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How Important Is Proper Sleep and Diet for a Child with OCD?

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Stress and sleep, and hunger are all huge parts of on overall child's functioning, but also huge parts of the treatment of OCD or any anxiety sort of in that pattern. If a child here in New York City, children you know will get home from school after their activities, they may not get home until four o'clock or five o'clock, then they have dinner, then they start their homework, they may shower, they may not be getting to bed until 10, 11, 12 and then they're up the next morning at five or six.

So already they're disadvantaged because they are only getting six hours of sleep when developmentally they should be getting closer to eight or nine. So then you a child the next day who is a little bit sleep deprived, is going to be, as certainly if I was only getting five or six hours a night I might be a little irritable the next day, my concentration might be a little bit off the next day.

So now I have a child who's got some anxiety, who has some OCD, whose got a little sleep deprivation and may not be focusing as well as they could be without getting caught up more in their thoughts, so it can become a whole downward spiral in terms of those areas. Then taking into consideration overall stress, the pressure of school, the pressure of succeeding, I'm I going to get into middle school? Where I'm I going to go for high school? And the high school kids are worrying, where I'm I going to go for college? So on top of all of the daily stress that they have, plus being a little sleep deprived.

On top of that then we see kids when they wake up in the morning for school, if we're lucky they have something for breakfast, even if it's something like a muffin or a pancake, it's still better than nothing but not necessarily healthy. So we'll see kids eating breakfast between six and seven in the morning.

Lunches in US schools range from 10:30 in the morning to one one o'clock in the afternoon and we're lucky if kids are eating anything healthy or nutritious at lunch. And then if they go from school to an activity, they may have a snack but may not really have their first dose of real nutrition until dinner which may not be until 6 o'clock.

So the culmination of excessive stress plus sleep deprivation plus not having nutritious lifestyles can make coping with OCD or any anxiety disorder that much more difficult.