We could all use more sleep — but for people in recovery, it’s especially important. Getting enough sleep is crucial to addiction recovery because it helps improve your overall physical and mental well-being. It does this by keeping your energy rate up, regulating blood pressure and blood sugar, combatting depression and anxiety, increasing motivation, and more. Maintaining a structured sleep schedule can help you stay committed to recovery. Read on to learn more about the importance of sleep in addiction recovery.
The Effects of Poor Sleep on Recovery
Studies have found that sleep disturbances and a higher risk of relapse are linked among persons suffering from alcohol addiction. Being drunk before bed means you are less likely to have rapid eye movement (REM) sleep, which helps the body recover from the previous day. Not having enough REM sleep puts you at risk of drinking or using more.
Not sleeping enough can actually shorten your lifespan. Getting seven to eight hours of sleep every night is recommended to maintain healthy sleeping habits. Sleep also affects your circadian rhythm, a process that helps your brain modify neurological activity at night so you can sleep more soundly and for longer periods of time. Substance abuse throws off this rhythm, even after you stop using which causes you to have poor sleep quality.
For those who have just started recovery, insomnia — or difficulty sleeping — is frequently reported. Studies show that sleep disorders are five times more common in people who are in drug and alcohol addiction recovery compared to the general population. This is especially true for alcoholics, as they tend to have more trouble sleeping than anyone.
Lack of sleep can cause emotional distress and instability, which could lead to relapse if not treated and cared for properly in a swift manner.
Sleep Disorders & Addiction Go Hand-In-Hand
Sleep disturbances caused by substance abuse (especially alcohol or opioids) are common. These disturbances can include trouble staying asleep, trouble falling asleep, and more. Yet it is recommended that sleep medications for sleep disorders be avoided by addicts since they can be addictive.
Contraindications can also occur between the drugs or alcohol an individual may already be using. Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is a better solution for addicts in recovery, as it can help people get better sleep in place of sleep medication.
Sleep Heals the Body
The damage that addiction has on the body can be ruthless. Sleep helps heal this damage, giving you the proper tools for sobriety when you are awake. This is because sleep reduces stress, gives you the energy to stay motivated, stabilizes your mood, and helps you think rationally.
Sleep also heals the physical body. Tissue, ligaments, tendons, muscles, and sometimes even organs are able to heal when you sleep. The longer and more soundly you sleep, the more healing will take place.
Stages of the Sleep Cycle
This lasts for several minutes as you transition from being awake to sleep. Brain waves, heartbeat, eye movements, and breathing slow down.
At this stage, light sleep moves into a deeper sleep. Muscles begin to relax, body temperature drops, and eye movement stops. This is the longest stage in the sleep cycle.
Stages Three & Four
To feel refreshed in the morning, both of these stages are required. Your heartbeat and breathing are at their lowest levels during this stage, and muscles are relaxed. Brain waves become even slower. It is difficult to be woken up during this stage.
REM sleep occurs about ninety minutes after you fall asleep. Your eyes start moving rapidly behind your eyelids as your breathing increases and gets faster. Your muscles also become temporarily paralyzed. REM sleep is what keeps you from physically acting out your dreams.
Ways to Get Sleep When You Begin Recovery
Getting restful sleep when you first get clean can be incredibly difficult. These are some tips for getting proper sleep on those first nights.
Make Sure Your Sleep Environment Is Comfortable
Check to see if the bed is at the comfort level you prefer. Is it too hard or too soft? You can also use a neck nest pillow for alignment and support, which can help to reduce pain and stiffness. Adjust the noise and darkness levels to your preference as well. Change the temperature if needed and make certain there is proper ventilation in the room.
If there is a noise problem, consider using a white noise generator to help you sleep.
Maintaining a regular sleep schedule, including on the weekends, can help your body recover best. Your body heals as you sleep, so getting the proper amount is crucial.
To help maintain your sleep schedule, do not nap during the day. Naps can make you feel less tired in the evening, causing you to stay up later than you should.
Only exercise early in the day. Avoiding exercise in the evening will help you get to sleep faster.
Keep a Record
Record your sleeping patterns, dreams, nightmares, etc. in a sleep journal. You can discuss these records with your counselor, sponsor, or others in recovery to see if others are experiencing the same concerns that you are.
Different relaxation techniques can help you get to sleep on those restless nights. These include progressive relaxation, visualization, breathing exercises, self-talk, recovery prayers, and more.
Your bed should be a place designated only for sleeping. This will train your body to feel sleepy when you get into bed each night.
Using and drinking affect your sleep, which in turn affects your recovery process. Making sure that you get enough sleep while you are recovering can make the difference in your success.
The specialists at Camelback Recovery can help you maintain a structured sleeping schedule at our various sober living homes located in Phoenix, Scottsdale, and Tucson. To learn how sleep can affect your recovery and if a sober living home is right for you, call us today at (833) 988-4025.