A study published in Addictive Behaviors showcases that young adults report a more intense craving for alcohol and cannabis on the days that follow shorter sleep durations.
Investigators took a sample of young adults who reported having used alcohol and cannabis during their screening. Subjects took part in surveys twice daily in the morning and afternoon over five 14-day sampling sessions. It took place over 70 days in total and included daily measurements of sleep duration, alcohol and cannabis craving, and alcohol and cannabis consumption.
According to the study, “Stronger craving was reported on mornings and afternoons after relatively shorter sleep duration. At the burst-level, sleep duration was inversely associated with morning and afternoon alcohol craving indicating stronger alcohol craving, but not cannabis craving, during two-week periods when young adults have accumulated shorter sleep duration.”
This showcases that cumulative sleep deficit might impact a person’s susceptibility to substance abuse.
The study highlights that for alcohol and cannabis use, “no daily-level effects were found.” However, the burst-level impact outlines that the subjects used alcohol more liberally over the two-week bursts when they had less sleep.
WebMD reports that the majority of adults require between 7 and 9 hours of sleep. However, some adults might require as few as 6 hours or up to 10 hours of sleep daily.
Even with sleep deprivation increasing craving intensity, the study didn’t uncover day-level impacts on actual alcohol or cannabis use. The results suggest that less time asleep might be an alterable risk factor related to substance abuse and cravings.