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Sleep Problems Lead To Drug Use In Teens

— Some San Diego researchers have found poor sleep to be contagious among teens, and it very often leads to drug use.

Audio

Aired 3/22/10

Some San Diego researchers have found poor sleep to be contagious among teens, and it very often leads to drug use.

The link between drug abuse and poor sleep patterns is well known, but a team, led by UCSD psychiatrist Sara Mednick, wanted to learn what came first. After examining a database of more than 8,000 teenagers, researchers determined that poor sleep led to drug use, not the other way around.

Mednick adds that sleep problems are socially contagious.

"If you're somebody that I call a friend it's likely that I'm also going to be talking to you a lot on the phone and you're going to have an influence on me," she said. "So if your sleep is poor it's likely that my sleep will also be influenced by it."

Mednick said the logical conclusion of her study is that improved sleep can keep teens off drugs and be a good influence on friends. She teamed up with UCSD political science professor James Fowler, whose research focuses on how behavior spreads through social networks.

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