The ability to sleep during recovery from drugs or alcohol is both incredibly important as well as incredibly difficult. Withdrawal symptoms or urges can surface at any time, even during rest periods. As such, triggers must be integrated into the new “normal” as people move through their recovery journey. However, sleep is powerful for someone in recovery. Being able to rest well can make a huge difference for each person and their own mental health through a challenging time. Some practices can be employed without professional assistance from the detox phase and beyond. These tools can be continually utilized at each person’s agency, even through their outpatient programs.
Why Is Sleep So Important?
Sleep is vital for several reasons, especially in IOPs, when someone may be at their own devices for further recovery. If someone isn’t well-rested, it is common to experience an increase in anxiety and depression. Sleep deprivation can further someone’s own mental and emotional instability. Addiction recovery is already a very trying time filled with these kinds of feelings. Compounding them with the lack of sleep that may be present can only further their detrimental effects. Someone who isn’t well-rested may also struggle to focus, learn, and internalize new grounding techniques and coping mechanisms even more difficult. Overall, lack of sleep can leave someone already feeling anxious or depressed with even more mental turmoil. Sleep deprivation can deny them the ability to incorporate the techniques that may help them challenge these feelings, leaving someone feeling stuck on their recovery journey.
Unfortunately, insomnia is all too common for those in recovery from an addiction to drugs or alcohol. It can be a common withdrawal symptom during the detox phase of recovery or the result of an irregular schedule. Issues with sleep aren’t just detrimental but are something that each person will have to address in recovery. However, some general tips may help each person attempt to handle their new schedule in sobriety.
Schedule it In
Scheduling a time to rest as a part of someone’s day can help ensure that someone is getting enough sleep to be mentally prepared for the following day. Making sleep a scheduled part of the day is the first step in programming the body to be tired. As someone forces themselves to go to bed at a specific time, their body will begin to expect it. The body will start to prepare for sleep if someone makes it part of their schedule and consistently maintains it.
Following Therapeutic Expression
By utilizing coping mechanisms before times of rest, someone can attempt to clear their mind before it is time for them to lay down for the night. Times of rest can commonly be when the mind wanders. Depending on the individual, this can be filled with stressful memories or emotions. Acting proactively to work through the stresses of the day before someone lays down their head can help ensure that they are able to get to sleep in the first place, and can increase the chances that the rest will be as restful as they need for the whole night.
Avoiding Detriments to Rest
Just as there are actions that someone can take to help them get to sleep, it is equally as essential to avoid other aspects that may hinder one’s rest. Avoiding things like caffeine that would create energy just before bed can help someone ensure that they feel tired when they do lay down. Avoiding caffeine not only can help someone sleep, but caffeine is also tied to other health risks that may be incredibly pertinent in recovery, such as increased heart rate or feelings of anxiety.
Avoiding electronics just before bed can also help someone get to sleep. The light from a television or someone’s phone can cause difficulties in sleeping, and television programs act as mental stimulants that can hinder someone from getting to sleep. While things like media therapy may be beneficial for some, it is essential to divide the two aspects. That is, engage in media therapy before trying to get to sleep, rather than trying to do both simultaneously, which compromises them both.
Sleep will always be necessary at all stages of recovery, detox to IOP, and beyond. Learning to rest can make all the difference in the early stages of recovery, especially when withdrawal may continue to prove to be an issue through feelings of constant discomfort or insomnia. However, it is essential to know that getting to sleep can be a practiced skill, much like anything else in the recovery process. It requires someone to make adjustments based on their own schedule and needs.
We are here to help you take the first step to gain control over your relationship to drugs or alcohol. Lighthouse’s caring staff personalizes your or a loved one’s program to help you set and reach your own goals. We will work alongside you to help you learn the skills more important to you while highlighting your strengths. No part of addressing addiction is easy, and the supportive atmosphere available at Lighthouse can help you realize your own needs for a sober future.