For anyone who’s struggled with the grip of a substance use disorder, experiencing the negative effects addiction can have on your quality of sleep is common. Both drug use and the withdrawal symptoms associated with recovery can make it difficult to both fall asleep and sleep through the entire night.
- If you’re living with an addiction, you already know your sleep habits are negatively impacting your overall quality of life.
- The same can be said for sleep and addiction recovery. If you’re trying to get clean, you know firsthand how difficult quality sleep can be to achieve right now. It’s common for poor quality sleep to drive some individuals to relapse and use again.
For example, if you’re living with an addiction to stimulants, like cocaine or Adderall, it’s a safe bet you’re not sleeping nearly enough. By contrast, if you’re struggling with opioids or benzodiazepines, you’re probably sleeping too much.
You see, drugs and alcohol have been shown to produce subtle brain-altering effects that directly impact your sleep quality. Even after you’ve begun the recovery process and detoxed your system, the effects of your addiction can linger for some time.
The Importance of Sleep
Healthy sleep is an essential function that enables your body and mind to recover, allowing you to feel refreshed and alert when you wake up. Restful sleep also helps your body stay healthy and fight off sickness and disease.
Without enough sleep, the brain can’t function properly, which can impair your ability to concentrate, think clearly and process thoughts.
- In reality, your overall health and the quality of your sleep are strongly connected.
- This means that poor sleep habits can increase the risk of you having poor health, and poor health can make it more difficult for you to get proper sleep.
Add to that the fact that substance addiction often causes significant sleep disturbances, leading to mental health problems like anxiety or depression and even severe health issues, and you begin to see that getting restful sleep is key to your entire well-being.1
How Sleep Is Affected by Substance Abuse
It’s important to understand that substance addiction can negatively impact your brain chemistry and disrupt your natural sleep rhythm. Different substances have different characteristics that can affect your sleep in a wide variety of ways.
For instance, opiates work by blocking the opiate receptors in your brain, which promotes the release of dopamine. While this chemical induces feelings of well-being and pleasure, the other side of the coin is that it disrupts your sleep cycles. Another example is a substance like cocaine, which increases your wakefulness and disrupts your REM sleep.
Similarly, amphetamines can stimulate your central nervous system, decreasing the amount of time you spend in REM sleep periods and causing your body to never achieve restful sleep.2
The Dangers of Not Getting Enough Sleep When Living with Addiction
Not getting enough sleep on a consistent basis is a dangerous pattern to establish and can cause various symptoms such as extreme fatigue, sluggishness, eating problems, weight gain, and cognitive issues that impact the brain functioning.
Understanding how chronic sleep deprivation impacts your health is essential to appreciating the toll it will take on your overall well-being.
- According to recent studies, just one night of sleep deprivation can lead to accumulation in the brain of the beta-amyloid protein, which increases the risk for Alzheimer’s disease.
- Sleep disorders have been shown to increase the risk for heart attack and stroke.
- Research found that sleep disorders associated with addiction increased the potential to develop cardiac issues and negatively impacted overall brain functionality.
- There is evidence that lack of sleep contributes to excess body weight. One study found people who slept fewer than seven hours each night were more likely to have a higher average body mass index and develop obesity than those who slept more.3
Sleep and Addiction Recovery: Tips to Become Well Rested
Some helpful tips that can improve your sleep habits while also addressing the physical damages associated with addiction can include:
- Get Some Exercise Every Day
Daily physical exertion can actually help you get a good night’s sleep by enabling the body to exert energy while increasing oxygen intake and blood flow. This decreases stress and improves your overall mood.
- Reduce Your Light Exposure Before Bedtime
We’re all sensitive to light, especially the blue light that is found in electronics and fluorescent lightbulbs. If you have too much light exposure before bedtime, your internal clock is unlikely to function properly, which can keep you tossing and turning all night.
- Minimize Distractions Before Going to Bed
Before bed, make sure to minimize unnecessary distraction. This means turn off your phone, try to sleep somewhere that you won’t be disturbed, and have your pets and kids sleep in their own rooms if it causes sleep difficulties.4
Reclaim Control Over Your Health and Sleep at Ranch Creek Recovery
Overcoming your addiction doesn’t mean to simply stop using. It requires you address all the damage your substance use disorder has inflicted by developing better habits and avoiding the things that have negatively impacted your well-being for too long.
At Ranch Creek Recovery, we know that regaining balance in life is essential to achieving sustained sobriety, so we work to improve every aspect of your life, including your sleep patterns. The bottom line is a restful night’s sleep is a great way to allow the mind and body to heal properly to continue working on your overall health and happiness.
We offer an alternative to the traditional 12-step program by customizing treatment plans to fit your unique recovery needs. Our holistic treatment services will help you better understand and learn how to stop abusing drugs or alcohol; create healthy lifestyle habits and patterns; and forge a fulfilling, clean future.
Learn more about our holistic addiction treatment programs and what we treat.
Concerned about a relapse or have you experienced one? Learn more about relapse and how to develop a plan.
Have questions? We’re here to help in any way we can. Contact us today.
1 Nature.com. Drugs, sleep, and the addicted brain. Accessed September 17, 2021. https://www.nature.com/articles/s41386-019-0465-x.
2 National Center for Biotechnology Information. Sleep Disturbance in Substance Use Disorders. Accessed September 17, 2021. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4660250/.
3 National Institute on Drug Abuse. Connections between Sleep and Substance Use Disorders. Accessed September 17, 2021. https://www.drugabuse.gov/about-nida/noras-blog/2020/03/connections-between-sleep-Substance-use-disorders.
4 Mayo Clinic. Sleep tips: 6 steps to better sleep. Accessed September 17, 2021. https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/adult-health/in-depth/sleep/art-20048379.