Teens & Friends With Sleep Problems Likely to Use Drugs

Is it a chicken or the egg situation?  Most would assume that teens using illegal drugs don’t sleep well, but a new study actually indicates that teens who don’t sleep well are more likely to use drugs … and so are their friends.  The study from the University of California in San Diego was in the news this week because it not only looked at individual teens, but their social circles.  What it found was that if a teen is sleep deprived, they’re not only more likely to use drugs, but their friends are as well.  An explanation comes from the Telegraph newspaper in the U.K.:

Dr Sara Mednick, from the University of California, who led the study, said: “Our behaviours are connected to each other and we need to start thinking about how one behaviour affects our lives on many levels.

“Therefore, when parents, schools and law enforcement want to look for ways to influence one outcome, such as drug use, our research suggests that targeting another behaviour, like sleep, may have a positive influence.”

The research also shows that getting little sleep and using drugs were habits that could “spread” through a teenager’s friendship groups.

There was no indication that researchers determined if the sleep deprivation was a cause of the drug use, or if it was simply a symptom of teens who use drugs.  However, the study is an interesting look at how the behavior of one teen can predict the behavior of another to which he or she is close.

Dr Sara Mednick, from the University of California, who led the study, said: “Our behaviours are connected to each other and we need to start thinking about how one behaviour affects our lives on many levels.

“Therefore, when parents, schools and law enforcement want to look for ways to influence one outcome, such as drug use, our research suggests that targeting another behaviour, like sleep, may have a positive influence.”

There were many ways to promote healthy sleeping habits, she added.

“Take the TV out of the child’s bedroom, limit computer and phone usage to daytime and early evening hours, and promote napping,” she said.

The research also shows that getting little sleep and using drugs were habits that could “spread” through a teenager’s friendship groups.

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