Most parents are aware that sleep is important for their children. This is when they rejuvenate themselves, grows and gives the brain vital time to flourish. For these reasons, sleep is proving to be extremely important when it comes to keeping children off drugs as well. Researchers have seen that there is a definite correlation between lack of sleep, or poor sleep habits and adolescent drug and alcohol use.
Earlier this year, a study conducted by Idaho State University looked at the effect of sleep patterns on more than 6,500 teenagers and how those effects led to drug or alcohol activity. The teens were interviewed and asked to fill out questionnaires about their sleep habits and quality of sleep. In addition to the questions regarding sleep, researchers also asked questions about drug use, peer pressure, sexual activity and alcohol use.
When the data was compiled it was clear that those teenagers who had difficulty sleeping, or had poor sleep habits, like; staying up late or waking frequently were likely to struggle with decisions regarding drugs and alcohol. The study showed that these teenagers were more likely to participate in binge drinking, drug use, getting behind the wheel while intoxicated or willingly getting into a car with an intoxicated driver. The research also noted that these teenagers were more likely to get involved in sexual situations that they later regretted.
A separate study showed that sleep habits that form between ages 3 – 8 are likely to define the sleep habits of teenagers. This means that when children are as young as three years old it is important to get them started on healthy sleep habits.
The correlation between poor sleep habits and substance abuse works in reverse as well, as many drug and alcohol users have very unhealthy sleeping patterns. The connection is thought to be that people desire to feel better, and good rest can help accomplish that. In absence of that, they will seek out other ways in an attempt to compensate. Ensuring young people are getting adequate, restful sleep is a great start for at-home prevention and intervention.