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The Connection Between Sleep and Addiction Recovery

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Tired young  man sleeping

A good night’s sleep is something that alludes many people for many different reasons. Mothers and fathers are getting up repeatedly in the middle of the night to care for their babies, college-aged students are staying out all night with friends, people are working extra hours and even more than one job to get by, and so on. As we have evolved as a nation, one thing that we still have yet to make a high priority as a whole is getting enough good sleep. According to SleepFoundation.org, getting solid, quality rest includes the following:

  • Falling asleep in 30 minutes or less
  • Waking up no more than once per night
  • Being awake for 20 minutes or less after falling asleep 

SleepFoundation.org reports that individuals should also be getting seven to nine hours of sleep each night, too. Many people might say that these criteria are some that they have not met it years or even at all within their lives. But when it comes to those struggling with addiction, more people than not are existing without any type of good sleep hygiene at all. That is because addiction completely throws off any and all circadian rhythm that a person has all while disrupting their ability to obtain any quality sleep. 

Dangers of Poor Sleep Habits

Those who have an addiction know that their sleep habits are likely not up to par. It is common for people addicted to stimulants like cocaine, crack, and Adderall to not sleep enough, while those who are hooked on opioids or benzodiazepines may sleep too much. And, while they are sleeping, they are tossing and turning as their bodies respond to whatever drug they have coursing through their veins. 

Being addicted to drugs and alcohol is extremely problematic in many ways, but especially so when it comes to sleep. Not getting enough good quality sleep can lead to the following dangers:

  • Weakened immune system
  • Memory problems
  • Poor concentration
  • High blood pressure
  • Increased risk for heart disease
  • Increased risk for diabetes
  • Poor cognition
  • Poor balance
  • Increased risk of accidents

People often equate not getting enough sleep to being drunk. In many ways, there is truth behind that statement because not getting enough sleep can increase your risk for an accident, impact your blood pressure, and of course, interfere with your cognition. Sleep is vital to good health, but when someone is not getting good sleep and is addicted to drugs or alcohol, these risks multiply and increase significantly. 

The Connection Between Sleep and Addiction Recovery 

Many people enroll in addiction treatment and struggle with insomnia or hypersomnia as they are detoxing from drugs or alcohol. Even after substances have cleared their bodies, they may still have problems sleeping. If good sleep habits are not implemented and followed, those in recovery can experience many setbacks.

For example, not getting enough good sleep influences one’s mood significantly. A person might be grumpy or easily agitated when they don’t get enough sleep and they might not feel as emotionally resilient as they would have if they did get enough sleep. When in recovery, your mood can (and likely will) fluctuate as your body tries to figure out how to function again without drugs or alcohol. The combination of the two can influence your mood to the point where you are more irritable than before, angry, frustrated, and eventually agitated enough to consider leaving treatment against advice. 

You might also be tempted to leave treatment before your program is completed because your cravings become more difficult to manage when you haven’t gotten enough rest. Think of it this way– imagine you are a stress eater but you are on a diet. You don’t get good sleep for a few nights in a row and now you end up binging on junk food to get that sugar rush to boost your energy. This is the same logic as cravings and recovery. If you don’t take care of your body with good sleep, you are setting yourself up for relapse when your cravings become overpowering.

Thankfully, if you enroll in an addiction treatment program, you will begin to regain the ability to improve your sleep hygiene. But keep in mind that it might take time to get back on track when it comes to sleep, as it can take the body and the brain more time to reset. Patience is vital when it comes to getting your body and mind back on track with everything, including sleep.

How Good Sleep Improves Recovery 

Good, healthy sleep is highly beneficial for everybody, but it makes an especially big difference in the lives of those recovering from drug and alcohol addiction. Some of the biggest benefits of good sleep in recovery include the following:

  • Decreases risk of getting sick
  • Lowers risk for major health problems like heart disease or diabetes
  • Reduces stress
  • Improves overall cognition
  • Influences mood (e.g. getting enough sleep increases the mood, not getting enough decreases it)
  • Increases positive communication with others 
  • Provides mental, emotional, and physical resiliency

In all aspects of your recovery, sleep can help you succeed. When you are focusing on fixing your family unit, getting good sleep can help improve your communication skills. When you are feeling overwhelmed by all the new changes you are experiencing, you are less likely to get stressed by it. When you get a cold, symptoms won’t be as debilitating if you are sleeping enough. Making getting good sleep a priority is critical in your recovery and not just because you’ll have more energy throughout the day. Good sleep can and will benefit you from start to finish of your treatment and beyond.

Do You Need Help? Call Us Today.

If you are struggling with a substance use disorder and need help, do not hesitate to reach out to us. We can help you deal with the challenges you are facing and guide you towards a life of recovery and happiness. So, do not wait any longer. Call us right now to get started on a brighter tomorrow.

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