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Smoking Pot Linked To Disrupted Sleep, University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine Study


6/3/2014 6:09:23 AM

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Marijuana Use Linked To Disrupted Sleep

PHILADELPHIA — A new study from researchers at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania suggests that marijuana use may be associated with impaired sleep quality, especially in people who have been using the drug since their teenage years. The research abstract was published recently in an online supplement of the journal Sleep and will be presented at SLEEP 2014, the 28th annual meeting of the Associated Professional Sleep Societies LLC.

“While prior research has shown that many people report using marijuana to relax and possibly as a sleep aid, this latest study found that current and past marijuana users are more likely to experience sleep problems,” said lead author Jilesh Chheda, research assistant, Division of Mood and Anxiety Disorders, Department of Psychiatry at Penn. “The most surprising finding was that there was a strong relationship with age of first use, no matter how often people were currently using marijuana. People who started using early were more likely to have sleep problems as an adult.”

The study involved adults ranging in age from 20-59 years who responded to the 2007-2008 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES). A history of drug use was reported by 1,811 participants. Cannabis use was assessed as any history of use, age at first use and number of times used in the past month. Sleep-related problems were considered severe if they occurred at least 15 days per month.

Results show that any history of cannabis use was associated with an increased likelihood of reporting difficulty falling asleep, struggling to maintain sleep, experiencing non-restorative sleep, and feeling daytime sleepiness. The strongest association was found in adults who started marijuana use before age 15; they were about twice as likely to have severe problems falling asleep, experiencing non-restorative sleep and feeling overly sleepy during the day.

The research team notes that the study was not designed to determined causality, so they cannot determine the exact relationship between marijuana use and sleep disturbance. The new finding may have important implications given that marijuana is one of the most commonly used drugs in the U.S., with a higher prevalence of use in adolescents, and marijuana use has also become legal in some states. “As more people have access, it will be important to understand the implications of marijuana use on public health, as its impact on sleep in the ‘real world’ is not well known,” said senior study author, Michael Grandner, PhD, instructor in Psychiatry and member of the Center for Sleep and Circadian Neurobiology.

The study was supported by funding from the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute; the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences; and the University of Pennsylvania Clinical and Translational Science Award.

For more information, please see the AASM press release.

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Penn Medicine is one of the world's leading academic medical centers, dedicated to the related missions of medical education, biomedical research, and excellence in patient care. Penn Medicine consists of the Raymond and Ruth Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania (founded in 1765 as the nation's first medical school) and the University of Pennsylvania Health System, which together form a $4.3 billion enterprise.

The Perelman School of Medicine has been ranked among the top five medical schools in the United States for the past 17 years, according to U.S. News & World Report's survey of research-oriented medical schools. The School is consistently among the nation's top recipients of funding from the National Institutes of Health, with $392 million awarded in the 2013 fiscal year.

The University of Pennsylvania Health System's patient care facilities include: The Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania -- recognized as one of the nation's top "Honor Roll" hospitals by U.S. News & World Report; Penn Presbyterian Medical Center; Chester County Hospital; Penn Wissahickon Hospice; and Pennsylvania Hospital -- the nation's first hospital, founded in 1751. Additional affiliated inpatient care facilities and services throughout the Philadelphia region include Chestnut Hill Hospital and Good Shepherd Penn Partners, a partnership between Good Shepherd Rehabilitation Network and Penn Medicine.

Penn Medicine is committed to improving lives and health through a variety of community-based programs and activities. In fiscal year 2013, Penn Medicine provided $814 million to benefit our community.

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