Child Sleep Problems May Lead to Alcohol Abuse

Tuesday 6th April 2010

New research has unveiled that children who suffer from childhood sleep disorders are more likely to develop drug and alcohol problems as they get older. The study, due to be published in the June issue of Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research, found that children who develop sleep disorders in their early childhood are more likely to continue to experience problems sleeping during adolescence and young adulthood. The researchers also found that overtiredness caused by childhood and adolescent sleep problems was directly linked to the later development of drug and alcohol abuse behaviours.

The researchers studied the behaviour of 382 young people and gathered data on sleep problems and drug and alcohol abuse behaviours across age ranges. The researchers found that overtiredness caused by childhood and adolescent sleep problems directly led to the lowering of inhibitions. This lowering of inhibitions significantly increased alcohol abuse in girls and drug, alcohol and cigarette use in boys. The study also found that childhood overtiredness was linked to adolescent binge drinking, blackouts, drink driving and more. One of the study’s researchers, Maria Wong of Idaho State University, claims that chronic overtiredness can also lead to poor academic performance and mood swings.

Childhood sleep disorders are thought to be a rising problem, with as many as one in ten parents thought to believe that their children suffer from sleep problems including chronic child insomnia. This new research furthers our understanding of childhood sleep problems and adolescent drug and alcohol abuse by establishing a link between the two, but researchers are still unable to explain the causes behind this link. Researchers hope to be able to study the subject further in order to develop fresh insights that they hope will lead to better treatment of childhood sleep disorders and adolescent drug and alcohol abuse.

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