We are always told that sleep is a very important process in our revitalization as well as having a profound impact on our daily lives. Many of us don’t get enough sleep and begin to rack up what’s called a “sleep debt”. It may not cost as much as credit card debt, dollar wise, but it’s eventual cost could lead to serious health and mental health problems, often requiring medications and visits to the doctor’s office. There are a great number of people operating with a hefty sleep debt because of stress at work, problems at home and a variety of other reasons, but many refuse to seek the help they need from a physician out of worry they may be put on a sleeping medication that could prove addictive and dangerous.
According to a new study conducted in the US, our lack of sleep or poor actual sleep may lead to some very interesting, but scary results. Trouble sleeping and not acquiring enough sleep may lead to binge drinking, driving under the influence as well as risky sexual behavior, according to the study. The research also points to lack of quality sleep causing similar problems in young people.
“Among normal adults, sleep difficulties and insomnia have predicted onset of alcohol use one year later, and increased risk of any illicit drug use disorder and nicotine dependence 3.5 years later,” said Maria M. Wong, professor and director of experimental training at Idaho State University.
The study examined 6,504 adolescents (52% girls, 48% boys). They used sleep difficulties to predict substance-related problems at a subsequent wave, while controlling for substance-related problems at the previous wave. The results indicated that sleeping difficulties and lack of sleep when added to the use of alcohol or other substances could have an impact on medical and behavioral areas.
With all the other factors that we are learning about when it comes to dealing with alcoholism and drug abuse, the issue of sleep may never have crossed our minds. This particular study isn’t the first of it’s kind either, but expands upon other ideas regarding addiction and behavioral issues and sleep. The good news about this study is that it shows that (at least for some) developing a drug habit in this fashion may be preventable and not a forgone conclusion. Yes, sleep is a difficult thing to medicate and deal with, but it has such a profound impact on our lives that we deserve to treat our bodies right and get as much of it as possible, as often as possible. For those worried about developing an addiction to sleeping medications or sedatives, your concerns are of course valid, but under careful supervision of your doctor you may find that relief you need to get and stay asleep and avoid much nastier addictions and health concerns down the line.