The ongoing, longitudinal study involved children selected from a community sample of “high-risk” families; 292 boys and 94 girls participated.
Results show a gender difference; childhood sleep problems were more likely to predict early onset of substance use in boys than girls.
Sleep problems between 3 and 8 years of age predicted the onset of alcohol, cigarette and marijuana use among boys; in girls the only link was between sleep problems and the onset of alcohol use.
The authors conclude that parents should pay close attention to sleep problems in children and teens. Helping children sleep better can improve their health and behavior.
Sleep problems in children are common; about 25 percent of all children have some type of sleep problem at some point during childhood.
How common is substance use by children?
The NIAAA states that 34 percent of 8th-grade students reported drinking in the past year. A recent survey showed that more girls than boys between 12 and 17 years of age reported drinking alcohol.
A 2008 survey found that 6.8 percent of 8th-graders reported using cigarettes in the previous month. According to the NIDA, tobacco use is the leading preventable cause of disease, disability and death in the U.S.
The NIDA also reports that marijuana is the most commonly used illegal drug in the U.S. A recent survey found that 15.7 percent of 8th-graders have tried marijuana at least once.
Get help for your child’s sleep problems at an AASM-accredited sleep center near you. The Cool Spot is an NIAAA Web that provides facts about alcohol for young teens.
Image by Raul Lieberwirth