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How Does Addiction Affect Your Sleep?

illustration of a lady in bed feeling uncomfortable

When was the last time you slept through the night? Do you remember what it was like to wake up and feel refreshed after a good night’s sleep? Have you noticed that worse sleep and worsening addiction often come hand-in-hand? The loss of healthy sleep patterns might be one of the most obvious warning signs that addiction is wreaking havoc on your body. 

According to the Partnership to End Addiction, the risk of insomnia among people in early recovery is five times higher than in the general population. Even during detox treatment, when drugs and alcohol are no longer in your system, they could still affect your sleep patterns.

Sleep deprivation or insomnia can cause stress and anxiety, increasing the risk of relapse. These disorders can also intensify during detox when you experience withdrawal symptoms. To better treat your symptoms, it is essential to understand how substance use affects your body’s ability to rest. 

How Is Addiction Related to Sleep Patterns?

Drugs and alcohol can work against a healthy sleep pattern. In the case of alcohol, although many people drink as a way to unwind, and some even to put themselves to sleep, alcohol’s initial relaxing effects can soon wear off and prevent deep sleep. Those who drink to relax tend to sleep lightly, and when they get up, they feel hungover because the alcohol does not allow them to get fully rested. 

Many drugs also interfere with the body’s natural tendency to relax. Even certain medications for treating high blood pressure or respiratory illness can also disrupt one’s sleep cycle. People might experience trouble falling or staying asleep, leading to fatigue and irritability during the day. The built-up stress due to sleep deprivation can cause many recovering individuals to relapse into addiction. This, in turn, leads to more sleep issues, so substance use and sleep deprivation can become a vicious cycle.

What Are the Long-term Effects?

For people who have been using drugs and alcohol for a long time, their brains undergo some structural and chemical changes. This is why scientists sometimes consider addiction-related sleep issues a kind of impairment. For example, addiction can lead to the stimulation of dopamine through altered reward pathways that make addiction hardwired. Coincidentally, dopamine is also the chemical that regulates the sleep-wake cycle. Messing with one inherently throws off the other.

Certain drugs (such as marijuana) also interact with the body’s endocannabinoid system, which plays a role in managing the sleep-wake cycle. Research shows that over 40 percent of marijuana users experience sleep difficulty when they are trying to quit the drug. Additionally, research finds that people who are addicted to heroin can have significantly more orexin-producing cells in their brains, and these chemicals disrupt sleep.

For people with long-term addiction, sleep disorders become intertwined with other behavioral disorders such as eating poorly, which causes malnutrition that can also worsen sleep issues. Lack of exercise can affect circadian rhythms, making it hard to relax. Disrupted sleep patterns also make it hard for people to fully function in their family and other social circles. In other words, addiction-related sleep disorders have the potential to disrupt a person’s life in all areas.

What Should I Do to Reclaim a Good Sleep?

Even if someone has not slept well for a long time due to addiction, they need not surrender to the idea that they will never get good sleep. The body always works along a predictable pathway, and people must restore a natural rhythm. It takes time to form a sleeping routine, but there are relaxation techniques to help people regain good sleep.

Because long-term addiction and sleep disorders can become intertwined, treatment calls for both physiological and behavioral intervention. Sometimes medical professionals prescribe sleep-aiding medications that don’t have known abuse potential. Cognitive-behavioral therapy, mindfulness meditation, stimulus control, and bright-light therapy are often used in combination with detox treatment.

Apart from seeking professional help at a detox treatment center, there are strategies people can use at home to foster a healthy sleep routine. One might inspect their bedroom and make it into a relaxing and inviting space. Hygiene, comfort, temperature, and noise levels all matter. Use some light-blocking curtains to help the body to rest. Limit screen time before going to bed to relax the brain in preparation for sleep. Reducing screen time for at least an hour before bed might significantly improve overall sleep quality. Make sure both your bed and bedroom are clean. White noise makers or apps help block out disruptive noises and lull people to sleep.

Have you been struggling to get proper rest? Did you know that your sleep patterns might have been changed by addiction? Does lack of sleep increase your cravings for drugs and alcohol? Addiction and sleep disorders can become a vicious cycle, but you can break the cycle with help from health professionals. We are here to help and support you. At Laguna Shores Recovery, we customize treatment plans for you, including sleep adjustment strategies. Laguna Shores Recovery offers treatment plans such as detox, medication, 12-step groups, and relationship skills coaching. Our staff is also experienced in transitioning you into long-term recovery mode after your stay at our facility. We also offer an outpatient program to support you in achieving long-term health. Schedule an appointment with us today at Laguna Shores Recovery. You don’t have to suffer from sleep deprivation anymore. Call us at (866) 229-9923, and we are ready to help you reclaim a good sleep.