The Sleep and Addiction Recovery Connection

Sleep — it is something that seemingly evades many of us. Whether we have children who keep us up all night, work long double-shifts, or struggle with a condition like insomnia, getting enough sleep is not always as easy as it sounds. Of course, getting that full eight hours of sleep each night is ideal, but it is not always attainable. For those who are sober, sleep and addiction recovery are two things that have a strong connection.

Sleep is defined by absence of wakefulness, loss of consciousness of one’s surroundings, changes in brain activity, and changes in physiological functioning. What seems like something so simple is actually extremely complex, as our minds and bodies go through several different cycles while asleep. It is during that time when we fuel up on energy and bring wellness back to our bodies and minds. So, when someone isn’t getting enough sleep, they might become irritable, apathetic, aggressive, and even physically unwell. The longer a person goes without a solid, healthy sleep pattern, the more stress they put on themselves in terms of staying mentally and physically healthy. 

So, what does sleep have to do with addiction recovery? Let’s find out.

The Connection Between Sleep and Addiction Recovery 

Individuals who have battled with substance use disorders more than understand just how much their drug and/or alcohol abuse altered their sleep patterns. For example, it is extremely common for people addicted to meth to find themselves up for days at a time after a long binge of using. Once they come down from that binge, they can crash hard and sleep for days. But, as we all know, you cannot stay awake for days at a time and attempt to rejuvenate yourself by sleep for a few days in a row. Someone hooked on benzodiazepines like Ativan or Xanax might find themselves sleeping more often, as these prescription drugs have a calming effect on the mind and body. So, when the time comes to stop using and get sober, the sleep cycle can be all out of sorts. 

For those individuals who require detox services prior to beginning a therapeutic program for their substance use disorder, they can start to see challenges with their sleep patterns almost immediately. That is because as the mind and body work to recalibrate after being exposed to large amounts of mind-altering substances, a person can find themselves sleeping too much or not at all. Usually, however, once the addictive substances clear the body, it becomes easier for many individuals to fall into a normal pattern of sleep. Others, however, may continue to struggle with insomnia or exhaustion for longer periods of time. In most cases, this is due to a combination of factors, such as:

  • The type/types of substances that were abused
  • How frequently the substances were abused
  • At what dosage were the substance abused
  • The mental health of the individual
  • The physical wellbeing of the individual

No matter what type of sleep challenges (if any) someone in recovery is facing, it is imperative to ensure that getting enough good, healthy sleep is a main priority, as it can serve as either a positive or negative influence in their recovery. 

Why is Sleep Important in Recovery?

Generally speaking, sleep is a vital necessity for every human being, regardless of substance use disorders or not. But, when a person is facing an obstacle like getting sober, sleep comes into play in a more prominent way. 

Getting enough healthy rest is critical for those in recovery. When a person is clocking appropriate amounts of sleep, it can benefit their addiction recovery in so many ways. But, without a steady sleep cycle, individuals can begin to experience some or all of the following negative repercussions to their addiction recovery.

Changes in mood 

People who do not get enough sleep are often referred to as being “grumpy” because they tend to be more irritable than those who have otherwise gotten good rest. This is because lack of sleep can easily and quickly cause unpredictable mood swings. When a person is in recovery, one of their main goals is to balance their mood in ways that positively influence their sobriety. But, if they are not getting enough sleep, they can begin grappling with agitation, anger, and lack of patience, all of which work against their successful progress in recovery. 

Clouded thinking

Trying to function without sleep is often compared to attempting to drive a car while under the influence. That is because when a person does not get enough sleep, they can begin having difficulty with thinking clearly, remaining in the moment, and being able to concentrate. This can make therapy sessions and other recovery-related exercises more difficult to pay attention to and learn from, which defeats the purpose of getting help in the first place.

Weak immune system

Lacking sleep starts to impact the body by weakening it in many ways. The immune system, which is designed to protect us from ailments, does not get the fuel it needs to run well when a person is not sleeping. This means that individuals with sleep problems are often more likely to contract one or more illnesses because their immune system is not strong enough to fight germs off. 

Sleep should be viewed as a tool that can either strengthen or weaken a person’s recovery. With it, an individual can maintain wellness and success in recovery. But, without it, staying sober becomes much more difficult. In fact, many people end up relapsing because they are unable to get their sleep situation under control and instead look to drugs or alcohol to cope with the effects of that. 

Recovery Coaching at alteredSTATE

If you are struggling in your recovery, or if you are looking to end your active addiction and get sober, reach out to us right now. We can help guide you towards achieving the goals that you want to achieve in your recovery. By getting in touch with us, you are taking the first step in growing and changing your life for the better.
So, do not wait any longer. Reach out to us today.

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