One of the most common symptoms of acute drug withdrawal is insomnia. As your body detoxifies it panics, which won’t allow you to get restful sleep during initial withdrawal and recovery. Sleeping does get easier after acute withdrawal but unfortunately, you still have the deal with post-acute withdrawal syndrome (PAWS) for the weeks, months, and even years following your sobriety date. Chronic drug and alcohol abuse can fry your brain which can take a while to fully recover. This gradual recovery causes PAWS symptoms including insomnia and trouble sleeping.
It’s hard to feel great during recovery when you can never get healthy shuteye. Let’s learn about the importance of sleep in recovery and six proven methods and techniques to get your sleep schedule back on track.
The Importance of Sleep
The importance of sleep cannot be overstated, especially for those in recovery. Sleep is when our brains do their housekeeping like restoring the pathways that were damaged during active addiction. Sleep is crucial to overall health and a cornerstone in proper recovery. Those who develop regular, healthy sleep patterns are more likely to see benefits in their everyday life – including in their recovery. If you need help getting your proper dose of ZZZs, try these techniques.
Exercise is great for all portions of recovery and is especially beneficial for sleep quality. It wasn’t very many years ago that humans were out working or moving all day and our bodies still aren’t used to a sedentary life. For the best sleep, you need to raise your heart rate often. You can lift weights, you can run, you can speed walk up and down the hallways at your office – as long as you’re doing something besides sitting, your quality of sleep is likely to improve. Aim for at least two hours of moderate activity a week for quick results.
Keep Your Schedule
Have you heard about your body’s circadian rhythm? Your circadian rhythm is your body’s natural clock that helps you know when to sleep and when to be active. No matter what type of personality you have, your body and its rhythm are Type A. When it comes to sleep, your body craves structure and regularity. That’s why it’s important to keep your sleep schedule consistent – even on weekends.
If you go to bed every night at the same time and wake up at the same time, your body will learn this rhythm and more importantly, it will abide by it. Try going to bed at the same time every night and waking up at the same time for just two weeks. At the end of the two weeks, you’ll find yourself getting naturally sleepy around bedtime and might not have to use an alarm clock to wake up anymore.
Most of us like to watch TV or browse the web before bed but looking at screens directly before sleeping will wreck your shot at great sleep. Screens like TVs and mobile phones beam blue light, which our brains associate with activity. If you’re watching TV, your brain will think you need to stay awake. Though you can install blue light filters on computer screens, cell phones, and other devices the habit of watching TV right before bed is an unhealthy one. Turn screens off an hour before you climb into bed. You can read, meditate, or listen to music instead.
Do Something Relaxing
Your body likes to wind down before welcoming the Sandman so don’t try to scramble from your 10 o’clock gym session straight into the hay or you’ll just toss and turn. After you’ve turned all the screens off for the night, devote the next fifteen minutes to an hour on something that helps you relax. You can do light yoga, meditate, work on an art project or read, whatever makes you relaxed – go for it. You can up the relaxation factor by using essential oils like lavender in a diffuser.
It doesn’t matter if you’re scared of the boogeyman, you need to turn out the lights. Remember when we talked about our body’s natural cycles? Part of your rhythm’s cycle has to with your brain, chemicals, and light. When the sun is out your brain senses the blue light and wants to stay active but when its time to wind down your brain releases melatonin.
Here’s the problem, your brain won’t release melatonin if all the lights are on – so turn them off. Try to dim the lights or turn them off entirely at least an hour before you plan on sleeping for a nice release of melatonin and a healthy night’s rest.
The Bed is Only for Sleeping
The only thing you should use your bed for is sleep. You need to convince your body and mind that when you get in bed, it’s time for sleep. This means no reading, watching TV, working on your knitting project – nothing! When your body learns that bed means sleep, it will respond in the appropriate fashion when you slip under the covers.
Bonus Tip: Make Yourself Comfortable
Do you have scratchy sheets? Is there a lump in the mattress? Is your pillow paper-thin? Don’t deal with discomfort, make yourself comfortable. Do what it takes to make your bed a refuge, a comfort palace, and the perfect tool for a restful night’s sleep. Consider new sheets, new toppers, new pillows, or even a whole new mattress if yours isn’t cutting it.
Sleep is important in recovery, but PAWS and other distractions can wreak havoc on a natural sleep pattern. Try these techniques and learn more to make a restful night’s sleep a key piece of your recovery. You’ll be pleasantly surprised to learn how much a good night’s rest can help your entire life.
If you are addicted to drugs or alcohol, there is no better choice than to contact a professional facility that can help you now. Luckily JourneyPure’s professional treatment is available to help you get sober once and for all.
Do not allow your addiction to continue for one more day. Reach out for the help you deserve by contacting us right now. We can help you detox safely and guide you through the steps you need to take to build a strong foundation for your recovery.
You owe it to yourself. Call us today.
Chris Clancy is the in-house Content Manager for JourneyPure’s Digital Marketing team, where he gets to explore a wide variety of substance abuse- and mental health-related topics. He has more than 20 years’ experience as a journalist and researcher, with strong working knowledge of hospital systems, health insurance, content strategy, and public relations. He lives in Nashville with his wife and two kids.