WESTCHESTER, Ill. – Sleep loss or disturbed sleep can heighten the risk for adolescents to take up smoking and drinking, two habits that may prove to be detrimental to their health, according to a research abstract that will be presented Tuesday at SLEEP 2007, the 21st Annual Meeting of the Associated Professional Sleep Societies (APSS).
The study, conducted by Xianchen Liu, MD, PhD, of the University of Pittsburgh, was based on 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 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. Recent studies associate lack of sleep with serious health problems such as an increased risk of depression, obesity, cardiovascular disease and diabetes.
Experts recommend that adults get between seven and eight hours of sleep each night to maintain good health and optimum performance.
Persons who think they might be suffering from a sleep disorder are encouraged to consult with their primary care physician, who will refer them to a sleep specialist.
The annual SLEEP meeting brings together an international body of 5,000 leading researchers and clinicians in the field of sleep medicine to present and discuss new findings and medical developments related to sleep and sleep disorders.
More than 1,000 research abstracts will be presented at the SLEEP meeting, a joint venture of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine and the Sleep Research Society. The four-day scientific meeting will bring to light new findings that enhance the understanding of the processes of sleep and aid the diagnosis and treatment of sleep disorders such as insomnia, narcolepsy and sleep apnea.
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