According to the Journal of Addiction Research and Therapy, insomnia is extremely common during alcohol recovery and is associated with an increased risk of relapse.1 Although getting adequate sleep is an essential part of thriving in a life of recovery, taking medications to treat insomnia may not be the best option, as people in recovery may be at increased risk for abusing or misusing the sleep medications.2
Despite the sleep problems many people in recovery face, it is possible to regain a normal sleep cycle and experience all the benefits of getting a good night’s rest on a regular basis. If you’re currently enrolled in a sober living program or you’re living back at home in recovery but are suffering from insomnia, here are some helpful tips on how to cope.
Insomnia and Substance Abuse
During your active addiction, you may have relied on alcohol or other substances to help you fall asleep, but now that you’re sober, you may have days when you feel particularly stressed or you may be suffering from anxiety and depression (all things that interfere with your sleep quality). In addition, your substance abuse undoubtedly disrupted your circadian rhythms, making it more difficult to adjust to healthier sleeping habits in recovery.
Many people who abuse addictive substances such as illicit drugs or alcohol experience sleep disturbances before they even enter treatment. Common sleep problems vary and may include difficulties falling asleep, being unable to stay asleep, or unintentionally falling asleep during the day.
Sleep problems such as insomnia are also common during drug withdrawal but can last for months or even years into a person’s recovery. In fact, up to 72 percent of people in treatment for alcohol addiction suffer from sleep problems.3
Dangers of Insomnia in Sobriety
Individuals who suffer from sleep disturbances in sobriety may be more likely to relapse as a result of some of the negative effects this causes. Some of the most common dangers associated with insomnia in addiction recovery include:3
Whether you’re enrolled in a sober living program or you just got out of rehab, sleep disturbances may pose a real threat to your recovery, further increasing the importance of developing a healthy lifestyle, both during the day and nighttime hours.
Tips for Coping with Insomnia in Addiction Recovery
People who are recovering from addiction are five times more likely to have sleep problems like insomnia than the general public.4 As a result, it’s extremely important for addicts in recovery to intentionally adopt habits that promote quality sleep and rest.
Here are a few things you can do to overcome insomnia and other sleep problems while enrolled in a sober living program.3
- Avoid caffeine and sugar. Whether you avoid caffeine and sugar altogether or you severely limit your consumption of them after 5 p.m., making a conscious effort to scale back on caffeine and sugar, as well as maintaining a healthy diet in general, may help you achieve a better night’s rest more consistently.
- Add yoga and meditation into your daily routine. Practices like yoga and meditation can help relieve stress, tension, and anxiety that you may find yourself carrying throughout the day. Heavy and anxiety-ridden thoughts swirling around in your head can make it very difficult to sleep at night, so managing these emotions with regular yoga practice or meditation may help you fall asleep quicker and get better quality sleep.
- Maintain a daily exercise routine. Exercising for at least 30 minutes each day not only makes you feel better physically, but it also helps relieve stress and anxiety and reduce symptoms of depression. You may also feel more tired in the evening after a busy day complete with a workout.
- Turn off your phone, computer, and TV. Our phones, laptops, and televisions can be extremely distracting, especially when it’s time to hit the hay. If you have to, turn these items completely off to avoid being disturbed in the middle of the night.
- Develop a nighttime routine. Establishing regular sleeping and waking times, reading before bed, drinking a cup of warm tea at night, or rubbing lavender or peppermint essential oils on your temples before bed are all things that you can adopt into your regular nighttime routine. Developing a structured routine for yourself may help you adjust to your new lifestyle of sobriety and promote more restful sleeping.
If you’ve recently completed a drug and alcohol rehab program and you’re suffering from insomnia or other sleeping disturbances, it’s important that you know you’re not alone. Many people in recovery suffer from the same problems and overcome them.
A transitional living program like Eudaimonia may help you establish a regular routine in sobriety, both during the day and at night. Our gender-specific sober living homes provide structured addiction recovery support for individuals in all stages recovery.
Call Eudaimonia Recovery Homes today to learn more about our sober living homes in Austin, Houston, and Colorado Springs or to receive more information about our recovery support services.