You already know practicing good sleep hygiene is one of the best things you can do to be healthier, both mentally and physically. However, when you’re in recovery from drug and alcohol misuse, a good night’s sleep can be hard to come by. Unfortunately, insomnia is one of the most common withdrawal symptoms, and when you can’t sleep at night, it can severely affect your mood and your ability to function during the day.
How Do Addiction and Recovery Impact Sleep Patterns?
Sleep problems can characterize any addiction. Trouble sleeping is a significant issue for many people recovering from use of drugs like marijuana, opioids, cocaine and alcohol.
If you are in addiction recovery, you may experience disrupted sleep patterns for half a year or more. The first few days of drug or alcohol withdrawals can be an especially challenging time, since sleep deprivation makes the entire experience more uncomfortable.
Why is insomnia such a common problem among people in recovery? Excessive substance misuse changes your brain chemistry, unbalancing your sleeping habits. During recovery, your body is working to overcome your reliance on the substance. It’s understandable the process will prevent you from getting the restful sleep you need.
Avoid Sleep Medications
While you are in recovery, it is essential to stay away from any substance or behavior that could become a substitute for your drug of choice. No matter how frustrating your insomnia becomes, protect your sobriety by not self-medicating with other drugs. Even over-the-counter sleep aids can be habit-forming and cause you to develop a tolerance.
Some medications can disturb sleep cycles and make your nights less restorative. Even if you are able to sleep through the night, it is not deep or restful enough. These drugs can also cause rebound insomnia, making it harder to fall asleep without the medication. With that in mind, here is some advice on restoring your sleep cycle without resorting to drugs.
How to Handle Withdrawal Insomnia Without Drugs
Fortunately, most people in recovery only experience temporary withdrawal insomnia. As time goes by, your sleep patterns will become more regular. Use the following tips as a guideline to regain your sleep hygiene.
- Create sleep rituals: A substantial part of succeeding in recovery is swapping bad habits for healthy ones. Try to go to bed and wake up at the same times every day, or use an essential oil diffuser with a calming scent like lavender to help relax you before sleep.
- Adjust your circadian rhythms: Addiction can wreak havoc on your body’s natural sleep cycle. You may have more trouble sleeping if your body became accustomed to staying up most of the night when you were actively drinking or using drugs. When you’re trying to reset your internal clock, your best asset is the presence or absence of light. As part of your nightly sleep routine, dim the lights to help signal your brain that it’s time to wind down. When you get up, turn on as many lights as possible to imitate sunshine.
- Try natural methods: Take a bath, drink a warm cup of herbal tea before bed, practice meditation or gentle yoga poses and stay active during the day.
These are just a few drug-free approaches you can take to improving your sleep and fighting withdrawal insomnia. Try these techniques first, and combine them if needed. It’s likely better sleep will find its way into your life soon.