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Poor Sleep and Non-Medical Prescription Drug Use

Behav Sleep Med; ePub 2017 Dec 22; Alamir, et al

Non-medical use of prescription drugs (NMUPD) is associated with poor sleep among college students, according to a recent study. Therefore, behavioral medicine screening and treatment of this vulnerable population should consider sleep health, NMUPD, and the potential that these problems may be comorbid. Researchers examined students who completed the American College Health Association–National College Health Assessment data (Fall 2010, Spring 2011; n=135,874). Associations were examined between NMUPD in 4 classes over the past 12 months (antidepressant, painkillers, sedatives, and stimulants), and 5 aspects of sleep quality (Enough Sleep, Early Awakening, Daytime Sleepiness, Difficulty Falling Asleep, and Problem with Daytime Sleepiness) in the past 7 days. They found:

  • Any NMUPD (at least 1 class), NMU of stimulants specifically, and NMU of painkillers specifically were associated with getting fewer days of Enough Sleep, more days of Early Awakening, Daytime Sleepiness, and Difficulty Falling Asleep.
  • NMU of sedatives was significantly associated with having Problem with Daytime Sleepiness, more days of Early Awakening, and Difficulty Falling Asleep.


Alamir YA, Zullig KJ, Wen S, et al. Association between nonmedical use of prescription drugs and sleep quality in a large college student sample. [Published online ahead of print December 22, 2017]. Behav Sleep Med. doi:10.1080/15402002.2017.1403325.