Howard university clinical psychology

department's ADHD/sleep RESEARCH

Linda Berg-Cross is a Professor of Psychology at Howard University, board certified in clinical psychology (ABPP) and behavioral sleep medicine (AASM).  She is the author of three textbooks and over 50 scholarly articles and possesses unwavering expertise in family, couples, and individual therapy.  Her research is infused with cultural theory and relevance and is oriented towards finding empirical methods for reducing health disparities.  Dr. Berg-Cross is the primary investigator and supervisor over a variety of ongoing projects and studies to include work that focuses on how sleep affects child development and family dynamics.  She is also the developer of the SOS sleep program for new parents, which helps parents bond with the infant, increase success in breastfeeding, and reduce post-partum depression.

Dr. Linda Berg-Cross (Primary Investigator)

Hope Jenkins began the journey to explore family-focused researched when she started attending Howard University for undergraduate studies.  She garnered valuable, unique experiences as she worked on research projects that examined health disparities and personality and identity development with a strong focus on each individual's narrative.  Hope's interests in families, children with ADHD and the contributions of environmental factors are further pursued, as a secondary investigator for the Healthy Kidz 4 Howard University ADHD Research study.  As a Clinical Psychology doctoral student, she is evolving her expertise in pediatric behavioral health.  

Brandi Walker has an earnest desire to further what is known about ADHD and provide therapeutic expertise and researched-informed support to families that are impacted.  Currently, she is a doctoral candidate in the APA-accredited Clinical Psychology PhD program at Howard University.  She is also an Army Clinical Psychology-intern at Tripler Army Medical Center in Honolulu, Hawaii.  Brandi holds a Masters of Arts in Rehabilitative Counseling from the University of Maryland, College Park.  Additionally, she’s a Graduate-Level, Licensed Professional Counselor (LGPC), and a Licensed Alcohol and Drug Counselor (LGADC) in the state of Maryland.  She spent the last four years working with various hospitals, clinics, and schools conducting research on children with ADHD, their family and various sleep variables and environmental factors of influence.  She seeks out and embraces meaningful opportunities to serve people and their families, particularly the youth.

Did you know 5-8% of children have a diagnosis of ADHD worldwide and the annual cost for supporting this condition in the United States exceeds the billion dollar mark annually? ADHD is of special interest to Howard University because these statistics are particularly relevant to minorities, families of low social economic status (SES), and children of military parents. While health disparities, revealed in the form of  limitations to quality healthcare and various resources, are disproportionately experienced by minority or low SES populations, it is equally critical to acknowledge that Service members and their dependents are embedded in a culture that entails its own unique tribulations (i.e., deployments, separations, relocation, etc.). Therefore, Howard University’s ADHD/Clinical Sleep lab is wholeheartedly embracing the undertaking of telling the diversified story of everyday Americans who endure this disorder. Regardless of one’s encounter with health disparities or other circumstances, the need for relief is a common theme. Conceivably, one critical goal of this project is to ensure participant representation of those in the community that rarely have a voice in most studies.

Research informs ADHD tends to impact the same areas in the brain that regulates sleep (amygdala, thalamus, basal ganglia) and that 50-70% of parents report problems with their children’s sleep.  Beyond economical costs, these families are more likely to endure elevated stress, and significant problems in their family relationships.  Restful sleep is vital to a myriad of biological processes, as well as one’s behaviors and cognitive functioning. People of all ages need the recommended hours of quality sleep for their respective age, particularly, children (Vance et. al., 2010; Miller-Horn et. al., 2008; Rietz, 1997; Weiss & Salpekar, 2010; Bullock & Schall, 2005). Compromises in sleep can equate to compromised resilience within the family, directly and indirectly correlating to medical and mental health concerns.

For these reasons (and others), we are comparing the sleep quality and sleep quantity of children without ADHD to children who have the diagnosis and are taking medication for it either every day or only during the school week. Similarly, we are examining sleep behaviors and parental distress between these three groups (continuously medicated and partially-medicated children with ADHD, and children who do not have ADHD).  We invite parents of youths between the ages of 6 and 10 to join us in improving the quality of life for ADHD-diagnosed children and their families.  This study is creating a platform to share new findings worldwide while extending the opportunity for diverse participation across the nation. 

ADHD and Sleep Research 

​ Improving the Quality of Life for Children with ADHD and Their Families

Brandi Walker (Secondary Investigator)

Hope Jenkins (Secondary Investigator)