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The Importance of Sleep in Alcoholism Recovery

woman waking from sleep in the morning light
Sufficient sleep is critical to successful alcohol addiction treatment. Here’s what you should know about sleep and alcohol recovery.

We don’t often appreciate the role of sleep in our physical and mental health. A few sleepless nights aren’t typically a cause for much concern, but for those of us struggling with alcohol use disorder, insufficient sleep can contribute to patterns of substance reuse.

Proper sleep hygiene is an essential component of good overall health. When our bodies are recovering from substance misuse, we not only need sleep to facilitate detoxification, but we also need the power of regenerative sleep to help combat and manage any health conditions that might have resulted from prolonged substance misuse.

Unfortunately, substance use disorder and withdrawals can cause significant sleep disruptions, making alcohol use disorder recovery more difficult. Sleep deprivation can have a corrosive effect on mental health, increasing the likelihood of substance reuse.

Alcohol and Sleep

Did you know that alcohol consumption inhibits restful sleep?

While many people believe that a glass of wine or an aperitif before bed helps bring on sleep, heavy alcohol consumption can delay the onset of sleep, cause fitful sleep and compromise the sleep cycle. While alcohol can cause initial feelings of drowsiness, as the alcohol is metabolized during the sleep cycle, the sedative effect diminishes, compromising REM (rapid eye movement) sleep and causing fitful, restless sleep patterns.

Longstanding alcohol misuse is also believed to correspond with chronic sleep disorders. Alcohol use disorder increases the risk of sleep apnea, but even one drink before bed can cause poor sleep quality and obstructive sleep apnea.

The effects of sleep deprivation don’t take long to establish — even suboptimal sleep for only 1 week can lead to mental fatigue, stress and anger. Chronic substance misuse-related insomnia can have a significant influence on psychological disorders. Alcohol is also associated with the following sleep disturbances:

  • Nightmares and lucid dreams
  • Sleepwalking
  • Sleep eating
  • Talking during sleep

Substance use disorders and sleep disorders often have cyclical patterns. Heavy use of substances lowers sleep quality; lack of sleep contributes to substance misuse.

The effect of sleep on the brain is profound. Disordered sleep patterns contribute to depression and anxiety, which can be a factor in alcohol reuse. Additionally, sleep deprivation impairs judgment, impulse control and cognitive function, causing mental impairment that resembles alcohol intoxication even when sober. A study conducted by researchers at Penn State University found a connection between sleep deprivation and substance reuse.

The Power of Sleep in Alcohol Recovery

Many substance use disorders correspond with co-occurring emotional and mental disorders. Issues like post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and anxiety are exacerbated by disordered sleep and are frequently present in people struggling with addiction. Lack of sleep also causes physical symptoms — feeling tired, sluggish, and achy — that might trigger substance use to counteract.

Restful sleep can promote physical recovery from long-term alcohol misuse and dependency. Having consistently good, restful sleep improves the immune response, helping the body fight infections. It is also a major factor in mood regulation.

Sleep allows us to physically and mentally reboot and refresh. Most adults function best after having between 7 and 9 hours of nightly sleep.

Alcohol Addiction Treatment at The Raleigh House

We understand the relationship between sleep and full-body healing. When healthy sleep patterns are restored, you are better equipped to participate effectively in your treatment. Additionally, restful sleep facilitates improved cardiovascular health and muscle mass, which enhance energy and boost mood. Our team helps restore healthy sleep patterns by integrating wellness-focused therapies like yoga and meditationrock climbing therapy, and nutritional guidance into our treatment programs.

Alcohol addiction treatment is a complex, highly individualized endeavor. The addiction specialists at The Raleigh House offer customized treatment plans that address the emotional and behavioral factors that might have inhibited previous successful addiction management. We are proud to be at the forefront of recovery, and we employ science-backed interventions with a proven record of efficacy in substance use disorder treatment. Our counselors and addiction specialists recognize the vital importance of treating sleep disturbances in conjunction with inpatient and outpatient treatment.

At The Raleigh House, we promote a holistic approach to recovery. We offer intensive therapeutic interventions to address the physical and emotional toll of a substance use disorder, in addition to wellness-focused treatments. We have helped a diverse population of clients effectively manage their disorders and dramatically improve their mental and physical wellbeing.

If you think you’re ready to address an unhealthy relationship with alcohol, please don’t hesitate to contact our helpful representatives.

When you’re ready, we’re here.

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