Teens: Just Go to Bed


The link between adolescent sleep patterns and substance abuse.

Original Source: soberinfo.com

Your kids should sleep for eight hours a night, right? It’s long been known that regular and sufficient sleep is necessary for the body’s proper functioning. But sleep may be connected to behavioral issues, as well. Sleep habits in teenagers may be predictive of substance abuse, according to a recent study published in The Journal of Adolescent Health. Sleep duration and sleepiness during the day were both found to be predictive of alcohol and cannabis use; however, neither were found to correlate to the onset of cigarette use.

The study departs from previous studies which merely examined the connection between sleep and contemporaneous substance abuse. Unlike those studies, this one asked whether sleep habits had value in predicting incipient substance abuse in subjects aged 12-16.

In the study of 892 teenagers, subjects were initially surveyed to establish their substance use history, as well as their typical sleep patterns. Over the subsequent four years, the subjects were re-surveyed on several occasions, and the aggregate data was analyzed.

The average subject slept 8.8 hours per night, as opposed to the 9-9.3 recommended by doctors. More importantly, researchers correlated a 15% reduction in the risk of alcohol use with every extra hour of sleep, meaning that a teen who slept only 6 hours per night would be nearly 45% more likely to begin drinking. Marijuana fit this pattern as well, with subjects exhibiting a 14% increased likelihood to begin smoking marijuana for every lost hour of sleep duration. However, the onset of cigarette use was not correlated with sleep patterns.

The study should give parents a renewed focus on speaking to their teens about the importance of establishing intelligent sleep patterns. Additionally, these data should demonstrate to parents the importance of seeking treatment for sleep disorders or sleep disturbances, as the link between poor sleep habits and the onset of illicit substance usage has now been demonstrated.