Alaska Sleep Education Center

Non-Pharmaceutical Options to Beat Insomnia During Addiction Recovery

Posted by Jennifer Hines

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on Dec 21, 2019 1:55:00 PM


If you are undergoing the process of addiction recovery and you feel better and more motivated than you have in a long time, you may wonder why you seem to have greater difficulty getting a good night's sleep. According to a study by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), almost 75 percent of recovering alcoholics report sleep problems following detox.

These symptoms tend to last for approximately five weeks, yet for some people, they can still be a problem six months after they have quit drinking. Insomnia is a predictor of relapse, with alcoholics around twice as likely to drink again as those who are sleeping well.

Therefore, if you suffer from sleep disturbances, you should seriously consider non-pharmaceutical therapies, such as cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia, to ensure that nothing stands in the way of your recovery. Natural therapies are a good idea for those in recovery, since they have little or no side-effects and are not addictive.

Circadian Rhythm Cycle Disturbance and Insomnia

Circadian rhythm cycles are built-in "biological clocks" that regulate many of our metabolic processes, including the 24-hour sleep-wake cycle. Alcohol and cocaine disrupt particular neurotransmitters that control or regulate sleep. Alcohol decreases the amount of REM sleep during the first half of the night, and increases REM later in the sleep cycle. This causes frequent awakenings because REM is a lighter, less restorative sleep.

Those who use stimulants (cocaine, amphetamines, MDMA, etc.) alter their circadian cycle and often enter into a vicious cycle, using depressant-type drugs and alcohol to counter the insomnia which arises from substance abuse.

Learn more about circadian rhythm disorders here.

Sleep Disturbance and Relapse

Sleep deprivation is linked to a host of medical conditions including heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke, and diabetes.

It can also lead to depression, impaired cognitive abilities (decreases in memory; concentration), and faster aging.

Best Non-Pharmaceutical Choices for Treating Insomnia

Cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia is proving to be a popular choice for those in recovery. This type of therapy involves recognizing how the way we think, feel, and behave are intertwined. It focuses on finding alternative strategies to deal with issues and problems like insomnia, instead of remaining within a spiral of self-destruction and negativity.

If you opt to have cognitive behavioral therapy for sleep enhancement, some of the tips your therapist may suggest are:

  • yoga-200Creating a sleep schedule. Rigidly sticking to the same schedule can help you avoid distracting habits, such as reading, watching TV, or working on the computer while in bed. Your bed should be associated with sleep and sex only.

  • Monitor your food and drink intake. Avoid caffeine-rich produts and beverages in the afternoon and don't consume a heavy dinner. Some people find that drinking warm milk or eating a small amount of a protein-rich food like turkey, can help them feel sleepier. Check out this article on the best and worst foods for sleep.

  • Use relaxation techniques to de-stress. Imagery CDs, yoga, and mindful meditation can help lower stress levels and obtain the clarity of mind you need to fall asleep. The focus of many of these techniques is "being in the present," which stops you from regretting the past or worrying about the future.

  • Don't take your problems to bed. Bedtime is not the best for running through personal problems and work issues in your head. If you need to resolve issues, keep a pen and paper by your bed and write them down, making it a point to get back to them the following day.

If you live in Alaska and feel that you may need cognitive behavioral therapy to treat your insomnia, contact The Alaska Sleep Clinic today to speak with a sleep specialist about your symptoms. With just a 10-minute phone call we can help determine if a sleep study or referral to a psychiatric sleep specialist is right for you. Let us help you beat insomnia, and get on your way to recovery and better sleep.

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Topics: insomnia

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