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If you have trouble falling asleep or maintaining restful sleep, you are not alone. It’s estimated that one in three Americans suffers from insomnia symptoms, and roughly six percent of us might be diagnosed with insomnia. If you’re recovering from addiction, you are anywhere from three to five times as likely to suffer from sleeping difficulties.
Some trouble sleeping when recovering from addiction comes with the territory. Alcohol abuse can lead to issues like sleep apnea (sleep-disordered breathing), and those troubles can persist anywhere from days to years while maintaining sobriety. Addictive substances and behaviors may have become ways to lull yourself to sleep, and now, in their absence, you’re having to retrain yourself in healthier ways to fall asleep. Even medications or treatments like methadone that are prescribed to help combat addiction can negatively impact your ability to sleep peacefully.
Unfortunately, sleep disorders have been linked to higher rates of addiction relapse. Lack of appropriate sleep can lead to depression, anxiety, difficulty dealing with emotions and poor decision-making. All of those are detrimental to your recovery.
Thankfully, you don’t have to take the assault on peaceful slumber lying down. As the causes of insomnia can be incredibly varied, you may experience better results trying more than one of the suggestions below. Some medications typically prescribed for sleep disorders carry addiction risks of their own, and other prescriptions may see diminishing returns so we’re focusing on changes you can make to your behavior and environment. The combination of these factors and how they affect your sleep is typically referred to as sleep hygiene.
One way to make sure you’re tired at night is to get plenty of physical activity during the day. Regular exercise has been shown to improve quality and duration of sleep—particularly in test subjects who kept up the practice for four or more months. It’s important to avoid too much vigorous activity shortly before bedtime, however, because that can leave you feeling too energized to drift off to sleep. Long-term exercise plans carry a whole host of other potential benefits as well including stress reduction. Since stress can disrupt sleep patterns, you’re tackling the trouble on two fronts!
It can be difficult for your body’s internal clock to develop a rhythm if you keep changing the beat. Try to keep steady sleeping and waking hours even on weekends and holidays. However, if you find yourself unable to fall asleep after 15 minutes, it’s best to get up and do something relaxing until you feel tired. Tossing and turning tends to fuel anxiety over sleeplessness which just results in more trouble falling asleep.
Discomfort from overeating or hunger can also cause trouble at bedtime. Drinking too much water late at night can result in a few extra trips to the bathroom in the wee hours. You should also avoid caffeine and nicotine later in the day as their effects can last several hours.
Avoid paying bills, web browsing or anything else on the computer, tablet or phone while in bed. Staring at a bright screen can warp your body’s perception of time according to some studies. Keeping your bed dedicated to sleep can train your body and mind to settle down when your head hits the pillow.
You can expand that strategy to the entire room at bedtime. Keep your cellphone in another room as it charges so you won’t be distracted by flashing lights or audible notifications. A white noise machine, small box fan or other device can be used to cover noises from appliances, ticking clocks and other potentially irritating sounds. If outside light is as problem, blackout curtains or a sleeping mask may help. Keeping a cool, dark, distraction-less environment is the goal.
Create a standard routine or ritual for the 30-60 minutes before you go to sleep each night. This is another way you can train your body and mind to settle into a sleep-ready rhythm. Curling up with a good book, practicing meditation or taking a warm bath are a few stress-free activities that can set your mind at ease.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for insomnia seeks to identify problematic behaviors and thoughts that contribute to sleeping disorders. Typically, a structured program like this is administered by a sleep therapist and can involve keeping sleep journals, sleep restriction, relaxation training, improving sleep hygiene as noted above and other activities as prescribed.
Long-term sleep disorders can have a debilitating effect on your mood, outlook and even health—leaving you feeling hopeless at a critical point in your recovery. Withdrawals, medication and a number of other factors might be contributing to your insomnia so it’s important to understand the reasons why your sleep might be disrupted. When you undergo treatment at The Raleigh House, your experienced clinical team can help develop a comprehensive, personalized plan to deal with your addiction and identify potential pitfalls like insomnia that may lead to relapse. If you’re ready to take the first step towards a new life, call The Raleigh House today.