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Jun 03, 2014 03:25 AM EDT

(Photo : Reuters) New research suggests that teens with sleep problems are more likely to have use drugs and alcohol than teens who have better sleep patterns.

Marijuana use may cause sleepless nights, according to a University of Pennsylvania study.

Researchers said that impaired sleep quality is especially observed in those, who were associated with the drug abuse in their teenage years (before age 15) and have a history of drug usage.

"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, in a statement.

"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."

For the study, researchers surveyed the sleep habits of 1,811 former and current marijuana users. Researchers focused on participant's history of cannabis use, age at first use and smoking frequency in the past month. Sleep-related problems are considered dangerous if they occurred at least 15 days per month.

The researchers found that users reported higher incidence of restlessness, sleeplessness and drowsiness than non-users.

The most affected group were those who reported smoking marijuana at a young age. These participants were twice more likely to suffer from sleep deprivation even if they reduced the amounts later in life.

The researchers did not, however, determine the exact relationship between marijuana-use and sleep disturbance.

The finding is published in an online supplement of the journal Sleep.

Marijuana is one of the most commonly used drugs in the U.S.

While the current study highlighted sleep-related problems from marijuana use, other studies showed that the drug benefited insomniac patients and those who reported difficulty falling asleep or struggling to maintain sleep.

A 2013 McGill University study showed that smoking cannabis lowered symptoms of pain, enhances mood and helps patients with chronic (long-term) neuropathic pain sleep. The researchers found a link between increased THC content and superior sleep quality, Medical News Today reports.

The existing treatments to cure pain like anti-depressants, local anesthetics, anti-convulsants or opioids have adverse side effects and are not suited for everybody.

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