An addiction to drugs or alcohol can not only disrupt people’s daily lives, but also their lives when they sleep. Insomnia, or trouble sleeping, is a common withdrawal symptom for several types of substance addictions. Sometimes insomnia can be treated by therapy or medications at substance abuse treatment programs, but in rare cases, people live with insomnia for much of their life.
Some people who have trouble falling asleep turn to sleeping pills, over-the-counter or prescription strength. Although, the use of prescribed sleep aid is relatively rare at only 4% in the United States for those aged 20 and older. This might be because over-the-counter sleep aids tend to be harmless compared to prescription strength sleeping pills, which have the potential for abuse and addiction that can ironically lead to withdrawal symptoms like insomnia. These kinds of sleep aids are also called sedative-hypnotics and are also used to treat anxiety disorders.
While insomnia is difficult to overcome for some, there are treatments that are used by doctors and in rehabilitation facilities for those struggling with an addiction that is causing their insomnia. There are also healthy sleep habits that you can practice at home to improve your sleep quality. Sleep is important for memory, learning, happiness, and physical restoration of your body.
Basics of Sleep
Without sleep, you could end up like Peter Tripp, a radio show host who stayed up for at least 8 days to raise money for charity. After only day three, Tripp hallucinated that his table was on fire and there were spiders in his shoes. He eventually slept again, but his family reported that his personality changed significantly. Getting enough sleep each night, at least 6 hours, may not seem important until one realizes what happens when one does not receive adequate sleep.
Scientific studies have shown that sleep deprivation can lead to serious health conditions like heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, lower immune system function, and stroke. Psychologically, it may only take three days of inadequate sleep to push a person into depression, reckless driving, and an increase in making careless mistakes that may cost other’s their lives.
The Severity of Insomnia
Insomnia simply sums up a medical disorder in which you have trouble experiencing adequate sleep. You may have insomnia if you have trouble falling asleep, staying asleep, and if you feel tired during the day. This inadequate sleep pattern is often followed by depression, anxiety, and irritability. At school or work, you may start making errors because your attention and memory will become weaker the longer you go without sufficient sleep. This is why rehabilitation facilities are often trained in how to treat insomnia, since anxiety and depression play roles in relapse.
Causes of Insomnia
Stress, working night shifts, suffering from a mental disorder like anxiety disorders, taking certain prescription medicines, drinking a lot of caffeine, and physical pain can cause insomnia, but so can an addiction to alcohol or drugs. Nicotine, a stronger stimulant than caffeine, can play a big factor in trouble falling asleep because this drug increases alertness, which is the opposite of relaxation. Alcohol has been known to disrupt the natural sleep cycle, despite the ability of alcohol to help someone fall asleep.
Alcohol messes with the sleep cycle by increasing slow wave sleep to the extent that Rapid Eye Movement (REM) sleep is decreased, which can affect learning. Opioids may make someone feel extremely relaxed and carefree, but these drugs also increase wakefulness during sleep, which decreases how much sleep you get each night, slow wave sleep for body restoration, and REM sleep. REM sleep is often tied to dreaming, which may explain why people who abuse alcohol and opioids experience less dreams.
Treatments for Insomnia
Since insomnia is a part of many addictions, substance abuse treatment programs usually provide services for those suffering with insomnia. Cognitive behavioral therapy is one of the most commonly used behavioral treatments for insomnia and involves stimulus control therapy, relaxation training, sleep restriction, staying awake passively, and light therapy. Stimulus control therapy instructs people to remove any activity from the bedroom that is not associated with sleep or sexual activity. The person is only allowed in the bedroom if they are planning to sleep.
Relaxation training involves learning simple breathing exercises or undergoing biofeedback training to fix any brainwaves that are disrupting healthy sleep. Sleep restriction means the person is to take no more naps and decrease how much time they spend in bed trying to fall asleep. The remaining techniques aim to decrease anxiety related to falling asleep and repairing your circadian rhythm.
If these behavioral techniques prove ineffective, then you may be given prescription strength sleeping pills. Although, this may be difficult if you are at the rehabilitation facility for an addiction to sedative-hypnotics.
Tips for Fixing Your Sleep After Recovery
There are simple steps you can take at home right now to improve your sleep quality or increase your chances of overcoming insomnia from an addiction if you follow them closely. The first thing you want to do is to stop exercising and using caffeine or other stimulants in the evening because these activities tend to increase alertness rather than relaxation. You should also avoid naps if possible. Go to bed at the same time each night or at least try to get up at the same time each morning. If these cannot be accomplished, try to make sure you sleep the same number or hours, between 6-9, each night. This stabilizes your sleep.
Finding Treatment for Insomnia Related to Substance Addiction
At the Recover, we aim to help those struggling with an addiction to alcohol or drugs to seek treatment on their own. You should not have to suffer with the repeated cycles of withdrawal symptoms, cravings, insomnia, and other negative psychological symptoms alone. There are plenty of options available at addiction treatment centers.
The Recover is an unbiased substance abuse and mental health news provider that gives people information pertaining to substance addictions. We also provide information about West Virginia centers for addiction recovery. If you are currently struggling with a substance addiction, then call us at (888) 510-3898 to talk with a treatment specialist who will help you find a substance abuse treatment program that works with your situation.