Substance Use Linked to Sleep

susbtance useIf you get 8-hours of rest per night, then you will spend a third of your life asleep. The importance of healthy sleep patterns cannot be overemphasized; those who manage to get over 6-hours of sleep every night are typically more productive and happier when they are awake. Those of you who are actively working a program of recovery are probably aware of how valuable getting a good night's rest is, knowing how vital balance is to your recovery. Addiction is a chaotic existence, typified by extremes in nearly aspect of one’s life. Conversely, recovery is about equilibrium, failure to keep a balance could lead to rash decisions and potentially a relapse. There is an acronym that is often recited at 12-Step meetings - H.A.L.T. - which stands for hungry, angry, lonely and tired. All four of which are considered to be risky for people in recovery, people whose instincts are geared towards turning to drugs and/or alcohol to cope with feelings. While the H.A.L.T. acronym may seem trite or being that which falls under the umbrella of common sense, the reality is that it is quite common to find yourself in one of those four vulnerable states. We cannot stress enough how important it is to your program to be vigilant about eating regularly, pausing when agitated, being a part of the community and getting enough sleep.

Sleep and Substance Use

Even 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 Early

It 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.”

Recovery

If your teenager’s substance use has morphed into abuse during young adulthood, please contact PACE Recovery Center. Our team specializes in working with young adult males struggling with chemical dependency and behavioral health issues. We can help your son break the cycle of addiction and adopt healthy behaviors to ensure long-term recovery.

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