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How to Deal with Insomnia in Early Recovery

Sober sleep and fighting insomnia in recovery
Learning how to fall asleep can be tricky in early recovery

Dealing with Insomnia in Sobriety

It may seem like a contradiction that alcohol interferes with sleep. After all, a nightcap or two helps many people feel drowsy. But going to bed drunk prevents your brain from cycling through REM sleep, the deepest, and most restorative kind of sleep. Without REM sleep, you may have felt like you were asleep, but you’ll still wake up tired.

If you’ve recently been through treatment for a substance abuse disorder, you may find it particularly difficult to fall asleep. This is common. For many, insomnia is a significant issue after quitting drugs and alcohol.

Whether or not it was a conscious decision, many turned to drugs and alcohol in the first place to mask preexisting sleep issues. But also, after removing drugs and alcohol from the brain’s chemistry, it can take time for the brain to readjust to normal sleep cycles.

Getting a good night’s rest is important, however. It’s the only natural way for our body to reboot itself, to recover from the previous day, and prepare itself for what lies ahead.

Some side effects of insomnia are:

• Mood swings
• Increased irritability
• Hallucinations
• Anxiety
• Depression

So, if you’re recently sober, and you’re having issues falling asleep what are some healthy strategies to honor your sobriety while getting some all-important shut-eye?

Sober Sleep Tips

First, try to limit your screen time, especially right before bed. Create a tranquil environment in your bedroom with lavender oil. Stimulus control helps those struggling with insomnia re-associate the bedroom with sleep, and be sure to limit caffeine intake, particularly in the second half of the day.

In addition, many people successfully combat insomnia through meditation. Meditation can reduce stress, release tension, and increase the potential for a good night’s sleep. Or instead, to prepare the body for rest try progressive muscle relaxation by tensing and relaxing muscles in order

Daily exercise also goes a long toward getting some quality ZZZ’s. A solid workout routine releases stress and simply wears the body out making you tired. And there’s no better way to fall asleep than that.Severe cases of insomnia may require biofeedback, cognitive behavioral therapy, biofeedback, or sleep restriction therapy.

Behavioral therapy addresses any underlying dysfunctional behaviors that may interfere with sleep, and biofeedback helps increase body awareness around stress, while also developing some strategies with which to control them.

Sleep restriction therapy wipes the sleep slate clean so to speak, limiting a patient’s sleep to only a few hours before gradually increasing the amount of sleep until healthy sleep patterns are established.

One of the best, and most fun ways to treat insomnia is just to spend a lot of time outdoors, because exposure to natural bright light goes a long way to promote natural sleep cycles.

And no matter what — it’s important to stay away from prescription sleep aids, since many of those are potentially addictive.

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