Study: Poor Sleep During Childhood Could Elevate Risk Of Substance Abuse

PITTSBURGH (CBS) — A new study suggests that poor sleep patterns in childhood could elevate the risk for substance abuse later in life.

Researchers from the University of Pittsburgh surveyed 186 boys from Western Pennsylvania, whose mothers completed a sleep questionnaire for them. Specifically, they were asked about sleep duration and quality of sleep their sons’ experienced at age 11.

The boys were later interviewed at ages 20 and 22 regarding lifetime alcohol and cannabis use.

Study authors accounted for race, socioeconomic status and other factors before analyzing the data.

Findings showed that less sleep was associated with earlier drug use, intoxication and repeated use of both substances. Lower sleep quality was also associated with earlier alcohol use, intoxication and repeated use.

The results were published in the journal, Drug and Alcohol Dependence, noting further studies are needed to determine why poor sleep gives an indication of future substance use and whether developing good sleeping habits could reduce adolescent substance use risk.


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