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Study Examines Relationship Between Puberty, Sleep and Alcohol

Posted in Research

Why is it that teens feel the need to drink alcohol? Do they like the feeling of inebriation? Are they under pressure from their peers? Are they trying to escape something they are struggling to face?

According to a recent Science Daily release, there is an association between sleep problems and alcohol abuse. For those teens who have difficulty sleeping, this can predict the onset of a problem with alcohol abuse when they are healthy adults or a relapse in abstinent alcoholics.

Puberty doesn’t tend to help the situation, either. A new study out of the University Nijmegen examines the associations among pubertal development, sleep problems and alcohol use in early adolescence. The study found that puberty is related to sleep problems and later bedtimes, which are in turn associated with the use of alcohol.

Sara Pieters, a doctoral student and corresponding author for the study, noted that the timing of puberty has been found to predict adolescent use of alcohol. Adolescents who mature early are more likely to drink.

Carmen Van Der Zwaluw, a doctoral student in neuropsychology at the University Nijmegen added that adolescents who experience problems with sleep have a tendency to use more alcohol than those without difficulties with sleep.

The results of this study indicated that puberty had a direct relationship with sleep problems and more evening-type tendencies, including later bedtimes, which positively related to early adolescent alcohol use. This tended to be true regardless of gender, underlying psychopathology and educational level.

Researchers advise clinicians to apply better screening for sleep problems when adolescents seem to have other psychological or behavioral problems. Parents should monitor adolescent sleep and keep in mind the effect it has on the overall healthy lifestyle.