A new study has found that difficulties in sleep as well as the sleeping hours can foretell us about a number of specific health problems, such as binge drinking, risky sexual behavior and others.
According to the researchers, they have found a close link between poor sleep and substance use in younger people.
“Among normal adults, difficulties in sleep and insomnia have predicted onset of alcohol use one year after the sleep problem erupts, higher risk of any illicit drug use disorder and dependence on nicotine 3.5 years later,” said Maria M. Wong, director of experimental training at Idaho State University.
For the new study, the researchers involved 6,504 adolescents, with 52 percent girls and 48 percent boys, and collected their data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health where they had participated earlier.
While keeping control for substance-related issues at the previous wave, the researchers used difficulties in sleep to foresee the substance-related health issues problems at a subsequent wave.
When the researchers added the consequences of sleep difficulties and sleep insufficiencies to the use of alcohol or other substances, they found that it can impact both medical and behavioural areas.
According to the researchers, the study has added to the existing literature by establishing the link between two sleep variables – difficulties in sleep and hours of sleep – and also the adverse effects of serious alcohol and drug-related problems in a sample that represented the nation.
Concluding the study’s findings, Tim Roehrs from Henry Ford Hospital, said, “This research is crucial in that it advances our understanding of the relation of sleep to substance use problems to include not only problems sleeping, that is, trouble falling asleep and/or staying asleep, but also insufficient sleep, addressed here as hours of sleep.”
The findings of the study will be reported in the journal Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research.