Withdrawing from alcohol use disorder leads to several uncomfortable side effects, with a common one being sleep disturbances such as insomnia. These withdrawal symptoms can last well past the detox stage, so many people are concerned the long term symptoms of withdrawal will make it too hard to recover from alcohol abuse. In fact, a common reason for relapse is due to the disrupted sleep people feel once they become alcohol free.
Sleep Disorders And The Relation To Alcohol Withdrawal
According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), between 25 and 72 percent of people in treatment for alcohol use disorder have reported having sleep problems. When your body has become dependent on alcohol and you suddenly quit drinking, you will experience withdrawal symptoms. These include tremors, nausea, headache, heart palpitations, and insomnia and other sleep disturbances.
These sleep problems include insomnia and sleep apnea. Those in recovery from alcohol and drug abuse will often have problems falling asleep or staying asleep. Other symptoms of insomnia include waking up too early or feeling sleepy even after a full night’s sleep. With insomnia, even if you are able to achieve a full night’s sleep, the sleep quality is poor, so you will not feel rested.
Those in recovery often experience disruptions in their sleep patterns that can last up to months or even longer. Unfortunately, chronic insomnia can lead to adverse effects on your health, such as immune system suppression, impaired cognitive and motor function, and increased risk for heart disease, heart attacks, stroke, and diabetes. Even short term insomnia can contribute to problems such as irritability, anxiety, and depression.
How Does This Impact Recovery?
Poor sleep is often a precursor to relapse, as not feeling rested during recovery can cause people to turn back to alcohol abuse as a coping method. The symptoms of insomnia like anxiety and depression can also be triggers for relapse, so it’s important to develop healthy actions that promote greater sleep quality.
This includes developing sleep hygiene, which refers to a positive routine you have before and after sleep. Sleep hygiene leads to healthy habits that reset your body’s natural clock, also known as your circadian rhythm. This will help your body know what to expect throughout the day.
How To Promote Healthy Sleep Habits
There are many things you can do to promote healthy sleep patterns and reduce the effects of withdrawal symptoms such as insomnia. By managing your insomnia, you are doing more than just getting a good night’s sleep; you are reducing your risk of relapse. Follow these tips to reduce your insomnia and get your sleep patterns back on track.
Follow A Sleep Schedule
During recovery, your brain and body are adjusting to functioning without being dependent on alcohol. Because of this, it is important to create and stick to a daily routine, including when you go to bed. Keeping your schedule similar each day is important to regulating your circadian rhythm and relaxing enough to get quality sleep.
If you have continuous trouble falling or staying asleep, you may have the urge to take naps during the daytime. However, this will interfere with your regular sleep schedule and create further problems when you are trying to go to sleep at night. The best way to get in the habit of a normal sleep schedule is avoiding the temptation to sleep at odd hours.
Do Yoga Or Meditation
These actions help to calm your body and mind, which in turn will make it easier for you to fall asleep. By relaxing in this way, ideally at nighttime, you will help your body fall back into its natural sleep patterns.
How Arista Recovery Can Help
Sleep problems may persist even after promoting healthy sleep habits. In this case, you may need professional help to conquer your insomnia. Arista Recovery offers methods for our clients that can help you get quality sleep.
Take Prescribed Medications
Talking with a psychiatrist and explaining your symptoms can help them prescribe you non-addictive sleep medications that will help you fall and stay asleep. These medications will help you create a normal sleeping habit that your body will eventually grow accustomed to and be able to achieve on its own.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
Sleep issues can occur due to your thoughts racing and being unable to quiet them. This can make it difficult to fall asleep in the first place or go back to sleep if you happen to wake up in the middle of the night. Cognitive behavioral therapy can help you work through your thoughts and emotions so they no longer keep you up at night. When not with your therapist, a journal can accomplish similar results.
Sleep Restriction Therapy
Sleep restriction therapy works by reducing the amount of free time you spend in bed. This works with the theory that spending too much time in bed can give you insomnia, is your bed becomes associated with more than just sleep. If you spend time watching TV, relaxing, or eating in bed, your body becomes confused on how to operate while laying in bed.
Your therapist will give you an allotted time to spend in bed that you must abide by, such as 5 or so hours. This limit will slowly expand to include a full night’s sleep. By doing this, you are reprogramming your brain to associate your bed with sleep only, and thereby reducing your body’s confusion.