When recovering from addiction, sleeping problems are often par for the course. If you struggle with addiction, you may have used drugs or alcohol to help you fall asleep. Now that you are in recovery, you will need to find healthier solutions for a good night’s rest. Complicating matters further is the fact that alcohol abuse is known to cause sleep apnea, and it can persist for days to even years. Commonly prescribed medications for treating addiction, like methadone, can also negatively impact the quality of your sleep.
It shouldn’t come as a surprise that a lack of good, restful sleep may contribute to depression, anxiety and other negative consequences. This includes a higher rate of addiction relapse. In part two of our series on sleep and addiction, we’ll offer three more tips for better rest.
1. Don’t Mix Business with Bedtime
According to some studies, looking at a bright screen can mess with your body’s internal clock. For this reason, we recommend that you avoid prolonged screen time before you attempt to sleep. Some smartphones even offer a nighttime mode that adjusts the color of the display to be less disruptive. Still, it’s a good idea to reserve your bed for sleep only. This may help you train your body and mind to more easily enter sleep mode when it’s time to catch some z’s.
Taking this strategy one step further, you should also consider making your entire bedroom a sleep-safe zone. Keep your cell phone in another room or place it face down as it charges so you won’t be distracted by flashing lights. You could also use a small fan for white noise, which can help mask distracting, irritating sounds. Many people sleep easier when outside light is kept to a minimum. If you’re one of them, take a trip to your local hardware store for some blackout curtains.
2. Start Bedtime Before Your Head Hits the Pillow
A standard routine or ritual for the time leading up to bedtime each night is another way you can help your body and mind to settle into a sleep-ready rhythm. You could read a good book, listen to calming music or simply take a relaxing shower. Whatever the case, find an activity that is stress-free and relaxing for you, and then be consistent with it each night.
3. Consider Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
Your sleep problems could be caused by underlying behaviors or thoughts that prevent you from getting the rest you need. Behavioral therapy for insomnia is about identifying detrimental factors like these and then treating them with a structured program, typically administered by a sleep therapist. This may involve keeping a sleep journal, sleep restriction, relaxation practice, or other continuing care activities.
4. Stay Active
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. However, it’s important to avoid too much vigorous activity before bedtime because that can leave you feeling too energized to get to sleep. Long-term exercise also provides many other benefits, including stress reduction. Since stress itself may disrupt your sleep patterns, exercise packs a powerful insomnia-fighting punch!
5. Stick to Your Sleep Schedule
Keep steady sleeping and waking hours even on weekends and holidays. If you’re always changing your sleep pattern, your internal clock may have a difficult time adjusting. However, if you find yourself unable to fall asleep after 15 minutes, don’t fight it! Tossing and turning tends to fuel anxiety over sleeplessness which just results in more trouble falling asleep. Instead, get up and do something relaxing until you feel tired.
6. Watch What You Eat and Drink
While many of us rely on a cup of coffee or tea to start our days, too much caffeine – especially in the afternoon – can have lingering negative effects on our sleep. Try to curb your caffeine consumption after two p.m. Or consider switching to decaf. You should also pay attention to how much you eat. Overeating before bed can leave you feeling uncomfortable and bloated; hunger pangs can cause you to toss and turn.
Make Better Sleep Part of Your Relapse Prevention Plan
At The Raleigh House, your experienced clinical team can help develop a comprehensive, personalized plan to deal with your addiction and identify potential setbacks like insomnia that may lead to relapse. Our comprehensive approach doesn’t just focus on treating the addiction – it considers the whole person — from the underlying psychological, behavioral, and environmental causes of your addiction to the nutritional deficits and interpersonal trauma that often comes as a result.