Recovery and Sleep
Sleep is just good for you. It restores you physically and emotionally. It gives you energy and helps you focus throughout the day. When you abuse drugs and alcohol, the brain’s neurochemistry is affected and many of your normal biological functions are disrupted. When you enter recovery, it may take some time to restore your natural sleep/wake balance.
Some individuals, primarily early in recovery, experience insomnia. Lack of restful sleep can be a trigger for relapse, as we can often make poor decisions when we are tired. Patience is needed to get on track with sleep patterns post drug or alcohol use, as our bodies need time to adjust.
Here are a few tips that might help you get back on track with proper sleep habits.
- Avoid cell phone or computer use before going to bed. The blue light from phones and monitors can actually trigger your wake cycle. This also helps you avoid any serious phone conversations or reading any emails that might upset you, which will keep you awake as you think about them.
- Avoid having deep conversations with others prior to sleep. You will be thinking about the conversation instead of drifting off to sleep.
- Avoid caffeine. You have probably heard this before, but it is worth repeating. Caffeine will keep you awake and even if you are able to fall asleep, the sleep will be restless. If you must drink something, try herbal tea.
- During the day, try to stick to a routine. This routine should also include a regular bedtime. Go to sleep the same time each night, even on the weekends. This will help to restore your normal sleep/wake patterns. You may have to say no to late-night social engagements, but it is worth it.
- Avoid sugar. Most alcoholics have sugar cravings when they stop drinking. Sugar will interfere with sleep cycles, especially if the sugar is consumed at night.
- Try reading before going to sleep instead of watching television. Some television programs may upset you or scare you, which can interfere with falling asleep.
- Get into a regular nighttime routine and tell yourself, it is time for sleep at whatever time you determine. This may seem odd at first, but it really can help. Your thoughts can have influence over your behavior, and this is no exception. Get dressed for bed, brush your teeth, etc. the same time each night.
Over time and with patience, your sleep patterns will be restored, and you will feel better!