According to a study, sleep difficulties and hours of sleep can predict a variety of specific problems, such as binge drinking, driving under the influence, and risky sexual behaviour.
Poor sleep and substance use have also been linked in the younger population.
‘Among normal adults, sleep difficulties and insomnia predicted the onset of alcohol use one year later, as well as an increased risk of any illicit drug use disorder and nicotine dependence 3.5 years later,’ said Maria M. Wong, professor and director of experimental training at Idaho State University.
Wong and her co-authors examined data from 6,504 adolescents (52 percent girls, 48 percent boys) who took part in the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health.
They used sleep problems to predict substance-related problems in the following wave, while controlling for substance-related problems in the previous wave.
When combined with the use of alcohol or other substances, the consequences of sleep difficulty and sleep insufficiency can have an impact on both medical and behavioural areas.
‘This study has contributed to the existing literature by establishing a relationship between two sleep variables – sleep difficulties and hours of sleep – and the odds of serious alcohol- and drug-related problems in a nationally representative sample,’ Wong said.
This paper is significant because it expands our understanding of the relationship between sleep and substance use problems to include not only problems sleeping, that is, difficulty falling and/or staying asleep, but also insufficient sleep, which is addressed here as hours of sleep,’ said Tim Roehrs of Henry Ford Hospital.
The study’s findings will be published in the journal Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research.