It’s a known fact that quality sleep is important for our overall well-being. People in recovery especially must reinforce healthy sleep patterns because quality sleep helps the brain detox and heal. Since substance addiction is a brain disease, quality sleep like one component of the antidote that brings recovery. Unfortunately, because substance addiction may undermine healthy sleep patterns, recovering individuals can find it challenging to get back to a healthy sleep routine. Let’s talk more about sleep, recovery and how they’re related.
How Does Substance Use Affect Sleep Patterns?
Substance use disorder (SUD) makes you more likely to develop sleep disorders, including, but not limited to, insomnia. However, this can also go the other way. If you have insomnia, you may use addictive substances to help you sleep. Alternatively, you may use substances to keep you awake and active.
Irregular sleep patterns and sleep deprivation happen to many people with SUD. This dysfunctional relationship with sleep can heighten your impulsivity, depression, and anxiety disorders brought on by substances. Therefore, sleep and substance use become a mutually-reinforcing cycle.
Addiction is a chronic brain disease that affects the neurotransmitter known as dopamine. This chemical is also responsible for regulating alertness in the sleep-wake cycle. When you use substances to increase dopamine substances artificially, it can interrupt your natural circadian rhythm. As a result, your sleep hygiene suffers, and so do your substance-using habits.
Poor Sleep Quality Undermines Recovery
As poor sleep quality is an influencing factor in developing and perpetuating SUD, it is also an indicator of relapse. The worse your sleep quality is, the more stressed your body and brain remain, and the more difficult it becomes to maintain sobriety. Conversely, if you get good, uninterrupted sleep each night, it’s easier to recover from the influence of substances.
Sleep is when the brain goes through a detox process. Toxins in the brain get transported out of your system, your brain stores memories, and healthy, natural brain pathways can be restored and solidified during sleep. Sleep quality is essential for your brain to recover from the toxins introduced through substance use and any co-occurring mental health issues.
Achieving a Healthy Sleep Pattern
A healthy sleep regimen cannot be separated from other parts of a healthy lifestyle. For example, you should eat a balanced diet at regular intervals during the day so that when you go to bed, your body is properly nourished for deep stages of rest. Conversely, going hungry or eating and snacking too late at night can undermine your sleep quality.
Regular exercise also helps reduce stress and improve sleep quality. It is ideal to exercise in the morning or during the day. Exercising right before bedtime may not be conducive to healthy sleep quality. Your body and brain need time to unwind before entering into full rest.
Can I Take Sleeping Pills During Recovery?
Because many sleeping pills can be habit-forming at best and addictive at worst, you may want to avoid sleeping pills in recovery. Recovery is about reverting the body to its natural patterns, including sleep. Using sleeping pills may be a shortcut but will not promote long-term healing. The goal is to achieve natural, unassisted sleep. This may take some time, but with the help of health professionals, you can get there.
Some natural dietary supplements help improve sleep quality. These include natural herbs such as valerian. A melatonin supplement can also help regulate sleep patterns. Unlike sleeping pills, these supplements are not addictive.
Effective Self-Care Techniques for Improving Sleep
Develop and stick to a regular sleep schedule every day, even on the weekends. This helps attune your body and brain to a natural rhythm of rest. Believe it or not, your body loves rituals and rhythms. It can also help to implement relaxation strategies into a bedtime routine. This may begin with a warm shower, comfortable pajamas, and a brief meditation for the body to unwind. Performing these habits every night will eventually signal to your brain when it is time to rest.
Sometimes people struggle with sleep because of unresolved anxieties. Attending peer support groups where you can verbalize these concerns and emotions and get feedback and encouragement can help you relax more. Do not hesitate to work with a therapist when you need more support in dealing with mental health issues. Surrounding yourself with a strong support system is key for helping your body and the brain heal.
People who struggle with substance addiction and sleep problems may need to consider residential treatment programs that build structures to support the body and the brain during detox from all harmful substances. Once you improve your sleep quality, your recovery can feel more secure and sustainable for the long term.
Quality sleep matters during recovery because of its detoxing benefits for the brain. It is part of a healthy and balanced rhythm of life. Laguna Shores Recovery offers both residential and outpatient therapy programs to help you make these lifestyle adjustments while educating you on the best practices to achieve better sleep patterns in recovery. We can support you with 12-Step groups and relationship skills coaching in addition to our stellar aftercare and alumni programs that help you stay on track. Most of our staff are in recovery, so they know the importance of establishing a healthy life rhythm that includes quality sleep. To learn more about how we can help you recover, call us at (866) 229-9923.