Insomnia Linked to Frequent Alcohol Use in Adolescents

Insomnia in adolescents

Insomnia Linked to Frequent Alcohol Use in Adolescents

Insomnia is linked to frequency of alcohol use among early adolescents, according to a new research.

Parents, educators, and therapists should consider insomnia to be a risk marker for alcohol use, and alcohol use a risk marker for insomnia, among early adolescents according to a study published recently in the journal Addictive Behaviors.

Insomnia in AdolescentsThe study examined the associations between alcohol use and four sleep-related issues: initial insomnia; daytime sleepiness; sleep irregularity, defined as the difference in weekday and weekend bedtimes; and disturbed sleep, characterized as nightmares, snoring, sleepwalking, wetting the bed, and talking in sleep.
When sleep problems were found to be associated with frequency of alcohol use, researchers examined whether symptoms of mental health problems or levels of parental monitoring accounted for these associations.

Seventh- and eighth-grade students completed questionnaires in the classroom that asked how long it took for them to fall asleep, what times they usually went to bed on a weekday versus on the weekend or vacation night, how often they experienced sleep disturbances, and whether they ever fell asleep in class or had trouble staying awake after school. They were also asked the frequency of any alcohol use in the previous four months.

In addition, students answered questions which were used to assess depressive symptoms, as well as evidence of conduct disorder symptoms.

Teachers also completed questionnaires, which were analyzed to determine the presence of attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder symptoms.

Overall, there were associations between alcohol use and both insomnia and daytime sleepiness. Importantly, researchers determined that symptoms of mental health problems and parental monitoring did not account for the link between insomnia and alcohol use.

These findings indicate that insomnia may be a unique risk marker for alcohol use among young adolescents, which is consistent with associations found between insomnia and alcohol among older adolescents and adults.


Journal Reference: 

Naomi R. Marmorstein. Sleep patterns and problems among early adolescents: Associations with alcohol use. Addictive Behaviors, 2017; 66: 13.


Authored by:  Kiara Moore, PhD