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Researchers Found Link Between Sleep Habits And Adolescent Drug, Alcohol Use

Researchers Found Link Between Sleep Habits And Adolescent Drug, Alcohol Use

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First Posted: Sep 21, 2016 04:15 AM EDT
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Study finds sleep habits during late childhood predict alcohol and cannabis use in adolescence.

(Photo : Agung Parameswara / Getty Images)

Researchers from the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine and Pitt Department of Psychology have found a possible connection between the sleep habits of adolescent teens and early substance abuse. They said that both the length and quality of sleep during late childhood can conclude alcohol and cannabis use later in adolescence.

Brant P. Hasler, Ph.D., assistant professor of psychiatry and psychology, and lead author of the study said, "Treating problems with drugs and alcohol once they exist and preventing them can be challenging, and we are always looking for modifiable risk factors." He also added saying,"Doing what we can to ensure sufficient sleep duration and improve sleep quality during late childhood may have benefits in terms of reducing the use of these substances later in life."

According to Medical Daily, the researchers studied 186 boys from Western Pennsylvania. They examined the responses to the Child Sleep Questionnaire that were completed by the boys' mothers. It was also a part of a larger research that investigates the vulnerability and resilience of low-income boys. The quality of sleep of the boys at the age of 11 years was determined using the responses to the questionnaire, and they were interviewed at the ages 20 and 22 years regarding their use of marijuana and alcohol.

The study, which accounted for race, socioeconomic problems, neighborhood danger, self-regulation, and internalizing and externalizing problems, found that both the duration and quality of sleep at the age of 11 were connected with early substance use throughout adolescence.

Researchers found that participants, who slept the least, compared to those who slept the most, had the most probability to report an earlier use of marijuana, intoxication and repeated use of both alcohol and cannabis. Dr. Hasler explained that for every hour less of sleep at age of 11 is equivalent to a 20 percent rise in the first use of alcohol and/or marijuana, reported News-Medical.net.

Meanwhile, according to Science Daily, the researchers also associated worse sleep quality with earlier alcohol abuse, intoxication, and habitual use. However, they explained that worse sleep quality may be associated with earlier cannabis intoxication and repeated use, but not first use.

"After considering other possible influences, we were able to determine that sleep problems are preceding the substance use problems," Dr. Hasler added. "Addressing sleep may now be something we can add to the package of our substance abuse prevention and treatment efforts."

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