There are certain symptoms that tend to come up when people are going through the recovery process after quitting an addiction. There are plenty of physical and emotional issues that accompany withdrawal, cravings and living life as a sober person. One of the most common complaints experienced during the early months of sobriety is insomnia or sleeplessness.
Insomnia is actually five times more common for those in recovery than for the general population. Their bodies are adjusting to a major change and they may have trouble falling asleep, staying asleep the whole night or end up waking up before they have gotten a full eight hours. Unfortunately, getting a full night sleep every night is crucial for not only for a person’s health but for their ability to focus on recovery.
Resolving sleep issues can help make the recovery process easier and more effective so that a person is not feeling irritable, tired and lethargic in a way that could influence them to use again. Taking care of their health by getting enough sleep can ensure that they reduce issues with their mood and feelings of well-being. Therapists and doctors involved in a person’s treatment program can help them effectively address sleep problems.
Why Sleep Problems Occur
The effects of addiction are the main reason why many people in recovery have issues with insomnia. Alcohol and other drugs can damage a person’s natural sleep cycles by decreasing slow wave sleep and preventing REM sleep. The brain altering effects of drug use can interrupt our body’s ability to sleep deeply throughout the night.
It can take quite some time for REM sleep cycles to return to normal after a person has quit abusing drugs. Withdrawal tends to disturb sleep even further because it is such a sudden change to the body. People who drink or use drugs late at night may be used to having those chemicals in their system when they go to sleep , making it hard for their body to adjust to the change.
In addition to physical changes, many people in recovery are dealing with depression, anxiety and other mood issues as a result of their withdrawal. Their mental state can make it harder to fall asleep if they have racing or negative thoughts, tension and stress in their body or painful feelings that are keeping them awake. When they are struggling with these feelings it can be hard to overcome symptoms of insomnia.
Treating Insomnia and Sleeplessness in Recovery
When someone in recovery is experiencing a difficult transition either physically or mentally, it is important to resolve any issues that may hold them back. Lack of sleep can make people more likely to relapse because it can make them more vulnerable to physical and emotional pain. Their inability to sleep is likely to increase anxiety, depression and reduce their overall feeling of wellness.
Insomnia can be treated through a number of different approaches which may all be helpful in improving a patient’s sleep. The first key strategy is to establish a regular sleep schedule by going to bed and waking up at the same time every night. This can help the body adjust to a natural pattern of sleeping and prevent too much change from affecting sleepiness.
People with insomnia also need to focus on their physical health as much as possible to improve sleep. This means cutting out or reducing stimulants like caffeine and sugar as these can negatively affect the sleep cycle. Healthy diet and regular exercise can regulate hormones and make it much easier to fall asleep at night.
Sleep is also greatly affected by a person’s emotional state so going to regular therapy can have a positive impact on sleeping patterns. If the person is able to talk about and resolve some of their feelings of depression or anxiety it can make it easier for them to sleep normally. The therapist may also provide them with some strategies for coping with anxious thoughts that keep them up at night.
Alternative Therapies for Sleep
In addition to healthier habits and regular therapy sessions, many people find alternative methods helpful as a supplement to treating insomnia. Things like acupuncture and massage can help relax the body and mind, making it easier to sleep. Herbal supplements like valerian root and herbal teas can also help promote sleep when used regularly.
Other supplements such as melatonin and magnesium can also be helpful in getting the body to sleep naturally. Adding relaxation routines like daily meditation or deep breathing techniques can help ease stress and make it easier to sleep deeply. Even options like energy therapy and reiki can sometimes be used to help promote sleep and relax the body.
It is important to try many different approaches if you are having trouble sleeping because your body may respond to certain treatments more than others. Sleep is crucial for recovery so make sure that you do everything you can to get regular sleep so you can stay sober.