In the past, scientists had discovered that improper sleeping patterns often lead to drug use and alcoholism. A more recent study has found more specifics about this link, discovering that binge drinking, DUIs and risky pernicious behavior can also be attributed to insufficient sleep.
What is Improper Sleep?
For this study, improper sleep didn’t just mean not getting the average 7 hour, but also troubles with sleeping patterns. Such as difficulty in falling or staying asleep, and insomnia. Scientists found that if these patterns persisted, they would transform into alcohol or substance dependency within 3.5 years. They also found that the “first wave” of sleep problems can pretty accurately predict binge drinking, DUIs, getting very high or risky sexual behavior later on in life.
Substance Abuse by the Numbers
Given this new development, it would be a good idea to look at some numbers to see what drug and alcohol habits teenagers have developed over the years. Here’s what National Institute of Drug Abuse has…
Here’s another interesting tidbit from this survey. Nearly 64% percent of the kids interviewed (that’s nearly two-thirds) did not view marijuana as a harmful drug. 20 years ago, this number would have been 35%.
It will also be quite interesting to see what kind of substances teens are more likely to abuse. Most parents worry more about their kids using illicit drugs. They worry that their kids would be buying in a dark alley from a shady dealer. Well, they should be surprised to know that they abuse over the counter drugs just as much. Here are some numbers from NIH again.
This just goes to show that for high schoolers, the local drugstore is just as effective as dealt-with marijuana.
What Parents Can Do
It seems almost ridiculous to hear that your kid’s drug or alcohol problems could’ve been solved if they went to bed early 3 years ago.
So that’s what you do. If your children are young, develop a strict curfew, in an early to bed, early rise way. And if your kids are older, figure out why they aren’t getting enough sleep. And you know what? Your best guess is probably correct. They got the onslaught of connectivity, social media, instant messengers and the constant buzzing of their phones to keep them awake. Which is why the smartphone generation needs a cyber-curfew, too. This should ensure more hours of sleep.
And as far as difficultly in sleep goes, parents have got to realize that there is a lot more going on in your child’s head than just texting friends. Which is why in the next blog, I’m going to be talking to you about sleep disorders in greater detail.