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Study at ISU to look at substance use and childhood sleep patterns

New study at ISU endeavors to discover any relations

Could poor sleep lead to alcoholism?

POCATELLO, Idaho - A new study is going to begin at Idaho State University, and it focuses on children's sleeping habits and if those habits affect substance abuse later in life.

Lead researcher Dr. Maria Wong says Idaho has a high rate of alcohol use and a higher-than average percentage of alcohol related accidents. To her, this means everyone should want to know what leads to people in our area to have these substance problems.

Wong says substance abuse and sleep problems can lead to much more serious problems.

"Sleep problems and alcohol use are risk factors for suicide," said Wong, who is also the director of the ISU Experimental Training Program "So we are excited to do it in the state of Idaho because we want to know more about something we don't understand well."

She says it's been proven in adults that sleep problems and alcoholism go hand-in hand.

"With adults, you never know which comes first," Wong said. "It's a chicken and egg thing. Do you not sleep well and then use alcohol? Or is it because you use alcohol you don't sleep well?"

Wong has published several studies about similar correlations that monitored kids as they grew up, which is what they will do with this study.

She wants to get 200 southeast Idaho kids into this study, which uses some pretty advanced technology, like a wrist monitoring device. It looks like a watch, but it actually tracks the activities of the participants throughout the week before they go in for their two-night sleep study.

It also tracks light, so researchers will know if participants were playing video games at night, which will also be a factor in poor sleep habits.

Wong says in previous studies, the main critique was that parents and kids would tell researchers about their sleep habits.

Now, she and her team will see firsthand sleep data from sensors hooked to them in a lab for two nights. She says this helps the data go from subjective to objective.

Wong is specifically looking for 8-to-12 year old children in the southeast Idaho area. The survey will be completed five years from now, with the research team checking in with participants about once a year after the first years.

If you think you'd be interested in participating in this study, you can email Wong a or give her a call at 208-282-2752. 

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