Improving Your Sleep Is Important in Overcoming Addiction
Trouble sleeping is a common withdrawal symptom for people who are addicted to drugs and alcohol. This can be troubling and lead to increased anxiety. While withdrawal insomnia is common, there are ways that you can deal with it and try to get a better night’s sleep.
Sleep problems can occur with any type of addiction. The National Institute on Drug Abuse states that insomnia is most common for those recovering from heroin, prescription opioids, cocaine, and alcohol abuse. “Trouble sleeping” is a withdrawal symptom for marijuana, prescription stimulants, and nicotine.
Ways to Ease Withdrawal Insomnia
The good news is that for most people, withdrawal insomnia is only temporary. It is one of the side effects of cleaning out your body and returning to a “normal” life.
- Establish sleep rituals. Much of recovery is about replacing bad habits with healthy ones. When it comes to sleep, you can try to go to bed and wake up at the same times or wind down with quiet activities like reading before bed. Anything that will calm and relax you before trying to sleep will help.
- Re-establish your circadian rhythms. Addiction can be difficult on your natural sleep cycle and your body may have become accustomed to staying up most of the night. One way to counteract that is to expose your eyes — without sunglasses — to the outdoor daylight early in the day. Do not look directly at the sun.
- Try the natural approach first. Drink a warm cup of soothing, caffeine-free tea before bed, try meditation, and stay active during the day. These are just a few natural approaches you can take to improving your sleep.
The Precautions of Sleep Medications
Addictions can lead to other addictive behavior. It is most important that you try and avoid things that have the potential to become a substitute for your drug of choice. This is particularly true in the early stages when you’re going through withdrawal and you’re most tempted to find fast relief.
Why Good Sleep Is Key to Recovery
Establishing good sleep habits — as difficult as that may be — early in your recovery can increase your chances of avoiding a relapse. You will hear this advice from former addicts, recovering alcoholics, and, most likely, your doctors and counselors as well.
A study of cocaine-addicted rats showed that sleep abnormalities increased the chances of relapse. Those animals that were able to have fewer interruptions and sleep longer were less likely to exhibit cravings for cocaine. The researchers speculate that the same association, even long after the withdrawal period, supports sleep-based therapies for people with cocaine addiction.