The Importance of Sleep in Recovery
August 16, 2019
Ending substance abuse and getting into recovery is a major accomplishment that undoubtedly takes bravery and perseverance. No longer consuming dangerous drugs or alcohol can immediately improve a person’s situation, however that does not mean that he or she is “out of the woods” so to speak. That is because recovering from addiction is complex. Even though the chaos caused by the use has ended, what is often left behind is the destruction that that chaos has caused. For many people who are new to recovery, something as simple as sleeping can be extremely challenging.
Even among those not in active recovery, good sleep can be hard to come by. It is estimated that between 50 million to 70 million Americans have a chronic sleep disorder such as insomnia or sleep apnea, a condition in which breathing stops and starts through the night.
No matter how long a person was abusing a mind-altering substance for, his or her body and mind are going to need time to level out and begin functioning in a healthy manner again. During this time, however, sleeping can be difficult because of the symptoms that one experiences. For example, a person who is detoxing can be kept awake by symptoms related to their withdrawal symptoms (frequent vomiting, abdominal cramping, or diarrhea caused by heroin withdrawal). Because the body is working to expel drugs and alcohol, it can be difficult to grab a decent night’s rest.
There are several other factors that can disrupt sleep in early recovery, including the following:
- Racing thoughts brought on by feelings of guilt, shame, fear, and anxiety
- An internal clock that is used to poor sleep habits
- Drug-induced damage to parts of the brain that make it difficult to fall asleep or stay asleep
- The onset of a mental illness such as depression that can make it hard for a person to be active as opposed to having trouble falling asleep
For those who are residing at an inpatient facility, trying to sleep can be challenging simply due to being uncomfortable in a new environment. No matter how much a treatment facility attempts to make residences welcoming, it can still be difficult to feel at home.
No matter what sleep-related challenges a person faces while in recovery, there are always ways to help implement healthy sleep patterns, which is critical in ensuring a successful recovery.
Benefits of Sleep in Recovery
While there are many roadblocks standing in the way of a person getting enough productive sleep while in recovery. However, the importance of good sleep in recovery must remain a focus. Some of the most notable benefits of good sleep while recovering from a substance use disorder include the following:
- Relapse prevention. When people do not get enough sleep, they can drag themselves throughout their days. They might doze off, zone out, or grab for foods that give them a temporary jolt of energy, such as sugary foods or caffeinated drinks. These actions can work against a person and weaken his or her resolve, making a relapse more likely to occur. Good sleep, however, can help a person make positive choices and experience an elevated mood that can help prevent relapse from occurring.
- Psychological recovery. Drugs and alcohol are not called mind-altering substances for no reason. Whenever a person abuses these substances, their minds are just that — altered. The longer that the use lasts, the more that the brain’s functions are disrupted. Getting productive sleep can help heal the brain, allowing for it to begin functioning back to its best ability.
- Increased focus. Getting enough sleep will, undoubtedly, sharpen one’s focus. Being able to maintain attention and stay connected to what is going on around a person can help him or her get the most out of recovery. Without focus, a person would likely not fully participate in therapy sessions that could help treat the underlying cause of his or her substance abuse, for example. Also, a lack of focus can cause the mind to wander, which can increase the risk of relapse. However, when a person has good sleep habits, these risks can be eliminated and he or she can benefit tremendously.
How to Achieve Good Sleep Habits While in Recovery
Many people who struggle with a substance use disorder also face problems sleeping. Some of these problems can be minor, however other problems can be indicative of a sleep disorder.
Sleep disorders are common in those who are in recovery from substance abuse because of the way in which mind-altering substances have affected their minds and bodies. However, as a person gains more time in recovery, he or she can improve upon these challenges.
You can achieve good sleep habits while in recovery by:
- Establishing a bedtime routine for yourself that includes a specific time to go to sleep
- Limiting screen time a few hours before getting ready for bed so that you can stop stimulating your brain and promote relaxation
- Ensuring that your bedroom is free of clutter and your bed, pillows, covers, etc. are comfortable
- Cutting back on caffeine before bedtime
- Setting an alarm for when to wake up in the morning
Think of how much time and effort parents put into developing a bedtime routine for their children. If you are a parent yourself, you are aware of how important this is.
Perhaps the biggest reason for implementing a routine is to help teach children how to sleep well. Now that you are no longer using and your body is not being manipulated by mind-altering substances, you essentially need to teach yourself how to sleep again, just as parents do for their.
Fortunately, you have previous skills to pull from and will develop more skills to support good sleep habits as you continue on in your recovery.
Get Help Now
At JourneyPure in Lexington, we know that recovery can be a challenge. We understand the difficulties that you might face and we are prepared to help you overcome them, whether those difficulties have to do with drugs or alcohol. Do not wait any longer to get the help you deserve.