Sleep and Substance UseEven if you are not in recovery it is important to maintain balance in your life, as developing unhealthy patterns can have consequences. And for some people, such behaviors can actually lead to substance use and potential abuse down the road. In fact, new research suggests that teenage males who get less sleep were more likely to engage in substance use, CBS Pittsburgh reports. The findings were published in Drug and Alcohol Dependence. Researchers from the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine conducted a longitudinal study involving 186 low-income boys, according to the article. The researchers instructed parents to measure their children's sleep duration and quality at age 11. The young males were interviewed about drug and alcohol use at ages 20 and 22.
If we just look at age 16, the group of kids getting the most sleep… only about half of them had tried alcohol,” Dr. Hasler tells KDKA’s James Garrity. “If we look at the group of kids getting the least sleep, nearly three quarters of them had tried.”The study showed:
- Childhood sleep problems may be prospectively linked to adolescent substance use.
- Less sleep predicted earlier onset of alcohol and cannabis involvement.
- Worse sleep quality predicted earlier onset of alcohol and cannabis involvement.
- These associations generally held after accounting for various covariates.
- Childhood sleep is a promising target for reducing adolescent substance use risk.
Intervening EarlyIt is well understood that teens who use drugs and alcohol, are more likely to continue use into adulthood. Early onset substance use is commonly associated with a greater likelihood of abuse later in life. Parents who realize their teen is not getting much sleep should do what they can to ensure healthy sleep patterns. Lack of sleep can lead to a host of problems that people will use drugs and alcohol to cope with.
Poor sleep can lead to problems like anxiety and depression, and those can in turn lead to possibly problems with substance abuse,” said Dr. Hasler. “We also know sleep has effects on the brain. So, not getting enough sleep affects the prefrontal cortex and makes it more difficult for people to regulate themselves.”