Getting a good night’s sleep is important for everyone, no matter what — it improves physical health, focus, attention to detail, and cognitive function, among a long list of other benefits. But, research shows that sleep hygiene can be especially important to keep track of if you’re in recovery from addiction to drugs or alcohol. Here are just a few reasons why:
Trouble Sleeping May Be a Sign of a Substance Abuse Issue
First, new or worsening sleep issues may be a sign that you’re abusing drugs and alcohol. Many people don’t realize the point at which their substance use may present a danger to themselves and their health, which is when addiction is present. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), substance abuse can cause sleep issues. When a person is abusing drugs or alcohol, it may take them longer to fall asleep, and once they do, they may not get the quality of sleep they need to be well-rested.
One study suggests that sleep disorders and substance abuse may arise in a vicious cycle — 46% of patients surveyed said that they used addictive substances to self-medicate sleep issues like insomnia.
Sleep Issues Also Commonly Appear During Withdrawal
A major reason why sleep should be closely monitored during recovery is that insomnia and related issues are a common symptom of withdrawal from a range of different substances, like alcohol, opioids, and amphetamines. Since insufficient sleep or sleep quality can cause cravings to be worse — increasing the chances of suffering a relapse — addiction recovery experts recommend that those in treatment and recovery make sure to follow some important guidelines to give themselves the best possible chances at a full night’s sleep:
- Avoiding caffeine, nicotine, or other stimulants before bed
- Using relaxation techniques taught in addiction treatment programs
- Avoiding harsh lighting (including LED-lit electronic screens) right before bed
- Establishing a predictable bedtime ritual that signals to the body that it’s time to go to sleep
If you’re doing all these and you still can’t get to sleep or stay asleep consistently, you may need additional professional help.
Sleep as Part of a Healthy Routine During Recovery
It’s common knowledge that one of the best methods of reducing the risk of relapse is reducing the sources of stress. But, did you know that inconsistent sleep can go hand-in-hand with stress triggers?
A Harvard study found that people who maintain a consistent routine are more resilient against stress and mental disorders. Because sleep is critical to maintaining a routine, quality sleep is essentially synonymous with a healthy, regimented lifestyle. That’s why people in recovery — especially early recovery — are encouraged to get on a stable routine, get enough exercise, eat well, and stay engaged with a supportive community. All these things are conducive to healthy sleep hygiene, and in turn, a more successful recovery.
If you’re experiencing new or worsening sleep issues, whether you’re in recovery for addiction or not, it’s not something to ignore. It may be a sign of something else going on that needs to be addressed before it causes issues in other areas. If you need support, reach out to the team at Hickory Treatment Centers — we can get you on the right track to a healthy tomorrow.