The first few months of recovering from an addiction can involve a number of difficult withdrawal symptoms as well as physical and emotional problems to overcome. One of the most common complaints among recovering addicts is difficulty sleeping especially in the first few weeks of abstinence.
Sleep patterns become interrupted because of the changes taking place in their body and the lack of drug use which could have influenced their ability to fall asleep. As a result of this many people in recovery deal with tiredness, fatigue and fuzzy thinking during the day that can affect their focus in rehab programs.
Sleeping problems may eventually resolve themselves after enough time being sober but there are some things patients can do to improve their situation.
Common Sleep Issues and Causes
While in recovery, addicts may experience a number of symptoms related to their sleeping habits. They might wake up repeatedly during the night and find themselves unable to enjoy a full night's rest.
A patient in rehab may also experience disturbing dreams and nightmares, be unable to fall asleep because of racing thoughts, or wake up feeling unrefreshed. Most of these symptoms cause addicts to feel drowsy and tired during the day or may even lead to them falling asleep in the day rather than at night.
There are a few common reasons why people experience these kinds of sleeping problems. Most often their alcohol or drug use has been influencing their sleeping habits for years and their bodies are still adjusting to a sleep cycle that is not chemically induced.
They might also be unable to sleep due to uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms or worried thoughts about their future.
Strategies to Improve Sleeping Patterns
Whatever the causes of their sleep problems, addicts in recovery need to do their best to adjust their bodies to regular sleep without drug use. Persistent insomnia can lead to more problems that can interfere with their treatment such as depression, irritability, anxiety, lack of energy and an increased risk for relapse.
Some rehab patient's sleep problems may ease after a few weeks but for those still struggling with insomnia they must take steps to improve their sleeping habits. A good way to handle insomnia is to develop a sleep schedule and stick with it on a regular basis.
Going to bed and waking up at the same time every day can help your body create a more consistent sleep cycle. If you find you are lying awake in bed with racing thoughts the best thing to do is to get up and do something relaxing.
Lying in bed when you cannot sleep can create an association of being awake in bed. Addicts with sleeping problems should avoid drinking any caffeinated drinks late in the day or eating a large meal in the couple hours before bed.
Stress Management and Sleep
Patients in recovery should try to create an environment in their bedroom that is peaceful and more associated with sleeping. Avoid watching TV or using the computer in bed and instead try to listen to relaxing music or dim the lights to get in the mood for sleeping.
Stress management techniques like meditation or yoga can be helpful to improve sleeping patterns. Stressful emotions and thoughts can be one of the biggest hurdles in falling asleep at night.
If you find yourself staying up most nights because of worries and racing thoughts then you should focus on relaxation and dealing with stress. Finding ways to create a relaxed feeling around bedtime is the most effective method to improving sleep problems while in recovery.
Eventually your body will adjust to sobriety and you will be able to get a good night's rest without the help of drugs or alcohol.