Sleep deprivation leads to smoking, drinking

LOS ANGELES, June 12 (Xinhua) — Sleep loss or disturbed sleep can heighten the risk for adolescents to take up smoking and drinking, according to a new study.

    The study, conducted by Xianchen Liu, MD, PhD, of the University of Pittsburgh, was based a questionnaire survey among 1,362 adolescents, with an average age of 14.6 years, in five high schools in China. The self-administered questionnaire collected data on sleep patterns, sleep problems, smoking and drinking behavior, behavioral and emotional problems, life stress, and demographic characteristics of the adolescent and family.

    The research abstract was presented on Tuesday at SLEEP 2007, the 21st Annual Meeting of the Associated Professional Sleep Societies (APSS) in Westchester, Illinois.

    The results showed that sleeping less than eight hours at night, frequent nightmares and difficulty initiating sleep were significantly associated with drinking. Further, smoking was related to sleeping less than eight hours, bedtime later than midnight, nightmares, difficulty initiating sleep, difficulty maintaining sleep and hypnotic medication use.

    “These findings demonstrate significant associations between sleep quantity and sleep disturbances and smoking and drinking in Chinese adolescents,” said Liu. “Although prospective, longitudinal studies are warranted, these findings suggest a potential role of sleep intervention, that is, education in sleep hygiene and the treatment of sleep disturbances in the prevention of adolescent substance use.”

    The amount of sleep a person gets affects his or her physical health, emotional well-being, mental abilities, productivity and performance, according to the study.

    Recent studies associate lack of sleep with serious health problems such as an increased risk of depression, obesity, cardiovascular disease and diabetes. 

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