Millions of Americans suffer from sleep problems on a daily basis. Heightened levels of stress and anxiety from social and environmental pressures can cause disturbances in normal sleep patterns and can make it difficult to complete life’s daily tasks. Sleep is intended to be a restorative process that helps individuals regain their strength and cleanse their mind from the day’s events. Yet for individuals in drug addiction recovery, the mental and physical distress caused by the absence of quality sleep is much more severe than the average person.
During drug addiction recovery, individuals are constantly battling the withdrawal symptoms from the detoxification process in the absence of the drug. In addition to the sleep problems caused by substance abuse, many individuals struggle with regaining their quality of sleep during the addiction recovery process. If individuals do not seek effective treatment, a lack of sleep can influence individuals negatively, affect their relationships, work productivity, ability to concentrate and weaken their will power. All of these factors can contribute to a relapse, causing long-term health issues.
Sleep as a restorative process
How much sleep is needed to feel rested and productive throughout the day?
The National Sleep Foundation recommends that adults get about 7-9 hours of sleep and teenagers get about 8-10 hours. Prolonged levels of lack of sleep can cause irritability, mood changes, and an inability to complete daily tasks in an effective way. In severe cases, a persistent lack of sleep can cause a multitude of health problems such as an increased likelihood for diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease.
For recovering addicts, getting the proper amount of sleep helps regain their strength and enhances their mood. It is essential that individuals replenish the body with good sleep to decrease unwanted stress and avoid future health problems caused by chronic substance abuse and poor sleep quality.
How drugs affect sleep
When individuals are addicted to drugs such as alcohol, marijuana, opioids, and cocaine, the effects of the drugs typically prolong sleep and decrease the overall quality of sleep. Typically, individuals initially begin using drugs to self-medicate for a co-occurring disorder, such as depression or anxiety, or to escape the pain felt by social and environmental stressors. These stressors can make it increasingly difficult for substance abusers to get quality sleep. Research indicates that substance abusers have higher rates of sleep disorders such as insomnia, sleep apnea, and restless leg syndrome than the general population. If untreated, persistent drug abuse can cause serious sleep disorders that can transcend throughout life.
The harmful chemicals from drugs alter the body’s main organs and natural systems. The drugs have a negative effect on a person’s central nervous system, cardiovascular system, and circulatory system and ultimately disrupts the person’s circadian rhythm, or biological clock. This accumulation of physical distress and unnatural chemicals in the body causes an inability to fall or stay asleep throughout the night.
Insomnia in addiction recovery
During recovery, if individuals do not get enough sleep, it increases their risk for relapse. Research has shown that after the detoxification process, sleep quality drastically declines. Experiencing physical and emotional withdrawal symptoms from the absence of the drug often causes individuals to be diagnosed with insomnia.
Insomnia is the inability to fall asleep or stay asleep due to mental distress or the persistent use of drugs. Ten percent of Americans have chronic insomnia disorder in which the symptoms persist three times a week for at least three months. For recovering addicts, it is extremely common to experience insomnia because they are struggling with the detoxification process in the absence of the drug.
Recovering addicts may feel fatigued and unmotivated to complete their daily responsibilities and may show signs of relapsing. To ensure a full recovery, guidance from a professional staff of medical experts and therapists is an essential component to the recovery process. A team of experts create an individually-designed recovery plan that encompasses effective coping techniques to elicit the relaxation response and improve the client’s quality of sleep.
Helpful techniques to get better sleep
The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) notes the following useful techniques used to increase the substance abuser’s quality of sleep:
- Mindfulness Meditation. This technique promotes mindfulness and self-compassion by showing individuals how to release unwanted stress and negative thoughts. Establishing inner peace teaches clients to understand the present moment and react in a productive way.
- Muscle Relaxation. This self-soothing technique restores the body’s tense areas and elicits the relaxation response.
- Exercise. A wide range of exercise activities such as yoga, walking, or cycling on a daily basis can help clients decrease their stress and improves their overall quality of sleep.
- CBT for insomnia. This technique can be used for emotional regulation and to replace negative thoughts and behaviors with productive outcomes.
- Sleep restriction therapy. Clients limit sleep for a few hours and progressively increase the number of hours of sleep until they reach the healthy amount.
Although the journey towards recovery can be a difficult process, the staff at Covenant Hills is with the recovering addict every step of the way to ensure a successful recovery. With a whole person approach to treatment, clients establish trust in the staff and program and work to find useful methods that help them achieve good quality of sleep.
The Covenant Hills medical staff, counselors, therapists, and pastors are dedicated to helping individuals avoid a relapse by teaching them useful relaxation techniques and coping mechanisms to enhance their quality of sleep. With faith and encouragement every step of the way, clients learn how to incorporate a healthy sleep schedule needed in achieving a balanced and meaningful life.
Covenant Hills Treatment is a faith-based addiction treatment facility in Orange County, California and San Antonio, Texas. Covenant Hills emphasizes a whole person approach to care and clients work with pastors, therapists, and counselors who are professionally trained in the Christian-based treatment program. Staff help individuals connect to a larger community of God and support the process of finding purpose again in one’s life beyond their addiction.
If you or a loved one i struggling with drug or alcohol addiction, please call (800) 662-2873 today to speak with a treatment specialist and receive a free evaluation.