Being unable to sleep is one of the most frustrating dilemmas faced by people in early recovery. People who have become reliant on drugs and alcohol to fall asleep often find that sleep is impossible. Whether you are in a residential treatment center or even outpatient drug addiction therapy, insomnia is one of the main difficulties faced by those involved. It can happen at any time during the recovery process but is most likely to occur during the first few weeks of treatment, sometimes even the first few months. At Crestview Recovery, we understand that sleep is vital. Give us a call to learn more about our addiction treatment options in Portland by calling 866.262.0531.
What Is Insomnia?
Insomnia is the condition of having difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep. It is one of the more persistent symptoms those in recovery face. In the early stages of drug and alcohol detox, insomnia can occur at any time. According to a study in the Journal of Addiction Medicine, people in the early stages of recovery are five times more likely to have insomnia than the general population.
Tips for Reducing Insomnia During Recovery
Insomnia during detox can lead to poor concentration, increased anxiety, tiredness, irritability, and depression. Without a good night’s sleep, one’s recovery can be affected. Here are some tips on battling insomnia.
Only Take a Sleeping Pill as a Last Resort
Before asking your doctor to prescribe sleeping pills or purchasing an over-the-counter sleep aid, make sure you live a lifestyle conducive to a good night’s rest.
- Get a healthy amount of physical activity every day
- Limit caffeine and other stimulants — no coffee after 10 am
- Eat nutrient-dense, home-cooked, diverse meals
- Enjoy time outside, and with the people you love
If you have unhealed trauma in your past, that may be preventing you from sleeping as well. Sometimes people who experience really severe trauma see themselves as too damaged to benefit from the simple things in life. Confronting these issues with a good therapist can help you process them, confront your pain, and begin the healing process.
Stick to Routines Before Bed
Have a specific bedtime where you go lay down at a certain time and wake at a certain time. Keeping a regular schedule will set your body’s internal clock and start you on the path to getting a better quality of sleep. Attending the following programs can help people learn routines for healthy sleep in our addiction treatment programs:
- Residential drug treatment
- Outpatient drug treatment
- Partial hospitalization
Make Bedtime Relaxing
Take a warm bath prior, read a book or calming music, listen to meditation apps, or smell some lavender. These relaxing methods can help get your body wind down to relaxation. Avoiding electronics like phones and TV at least an hour before bed can help your brain “power down” and be ready to sleep.
Limit Caffeine and Eat Healthy Foods
Pumping your body full of nicotine or caffeine will keep your brain “on alert” for 4 – 6 hours after consumption. Be mindful to eat foods that are healthy before bedtime and drink beverages that aren’t caffeinated. Make your bedroom a sleep-only zone. If you typically play video games or watch TV, work out, or do other things in the bedroom, your mind will not associate the room with sleep. Your brain should automatically switch to drowsy when you walk into the room, so make it quiet and relaxing and keep it only for sleep until your insomnia sorts itself out.
Exercise Your Mind and Body
Studies have shown that working your body and your mind can help contribute to better sleep. Mental fatigue is as tiring as physical fatigue, so grab a crossword puzzle and then get some cardio going to get you ready for deep restorative sleep. Exercising will boost the immune system and decrease anxiety and stress. The more you fall into this habit, the more positive life changes you’ll see as a result.
Does Counting Sheep Actually Work?
For some people, counting sheep actually builds up stress and anxiety, making it even more challenging to drift off. Instead of watching the clock or counting sheep, focus on deep breathing instead. Keep the clock facing away from you to avoid the temptation to stare at it. If you find yourself still awake 20 minutes after getting into bed, get up and do something peaceful before lying back down.
Develop a Pre-Sleep Routine
Reading is a great way to get drowsy, or you can sip a warm non-caffeinated beverage and listen to calming music. Remember to avoid staring at screens before bedtime. You will also want to seek help from a treatment center if you have developed a dependence on chemicals that are harming your health and well-being. Contact Crestview Recovery to learn more about how to get the best sleep in the early days of addiction recovery by calling 866.262.0531.
Since 2016, Dr. Merle Williamson, a graduate of Oregon Health Sciences University, has been the Medical Director at Crestview Recovery, bringing a rich background in addiction medicine from his time at Hazelden Treatment Center. He oversees outpatient drug and alcohol treatments, providing medical care, setting policies, detox protocols, and quality assurance measures. Before specializing in addiction medicine, he spent 25 years in anesthesiology, serving as Chair of Hospital Pharmacy and Therapeutics Committee and Chief of Anesthesia at Kaiser Permanente. This experience gives him a unique perspective on treating prescription drug addiction.