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Teens Who Don’t Get Enough Sleep More Likely to Abuse Alcohol

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A new study shows that teenagers who fail to get enough sleep are more likely than their peers to deal with serious drinking problems.

The study, which was led by Idaho State University psychologist Maria Wong, was based on an examination of data collected from 6,500 teenagers. Researchers discovered that teens aged 14 to 16 who regularly struggled to fall asleep at night were roughly 50 per cent more likely to binge-drink alcohol. The study also showed that sleep-deprived teenagers were 14 per cent more likely to drive while under the influence.

The study also revealed that far too many teens are failing to get a full night’s sleep. Specifically, it showed that about half of all adolescents get less than eight hours of sleep each evening.

Even more concerning was the long-term impact of alcohol problems emerging during the adolescent years. The study revealed that those teens who struggled to get regular sleep were 10 per cent more likely to drive drunk when they reached their early twenties.

Wong says the study should bring attention to the seriousness of sleep deprivation and its link to alcohol consumption among teens. “This study shows that sleep issues can actually precede and even predict alcohol use later on,” Wong said.

Still, Wong insists it’s important people recognize that her research team is “not saying that sleep is the only risk factor for alcohol use.”

Those interested in reading the study should consult the most recent edition of the journal Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research.

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