The initial days of recovery from substance abuse and addiction are referred to as the detox period. Individuals who are detoxing may experience an array of physical and psychological symptoms that are unpleasant or challenging to cope with. One of the most common detox symptoms experienced is insomnia. Adequately and appropriately dealing with insomnia during detox can make or break the start of a recovery journey.
What is Insomnia?
Simply put, insomnia is a condition in which a person experiences difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep. Some people may lay awake for hours before falling asleep. Others may get 6-8 hours of sleep, but the sleep is unrestful. Insomnia is an unfortunately common issue seen in the world population today. According to the Sleep Foundation, some studies show rates of insomnia occurring in up to 60% of the population.
The Connection Between Insomnia and Detox
An already prominent struggle for adults, insomnia occurrences are 5 times more common when individuals are in early recovery. Just as using drugs can cause changes in behavior and sleep patterns, so can quitting drug use. During detox, your body is going through an adjustment period where hormones and neurotransmitters are fluctuating and your brain is working hard to regulate your physiological systems. While the body and brain are adjusting, it seems logical that issues with sleep may occur. The inability to deal with insomnia during this time period can make other withdrawal symptoms worse and increase the likelihood of relapsing. Luckily, there are options to help regulate sleep during these initial weeks of recovery.
3 Tips for Managing Insomnia
Create & stick to a routine
Our circadian rhythm is our body’s natural alarm clock. It is functioning when your body naturally tells you that it is time to fall asleep to wake up. The use of nearly any addictive substance can cause disruptions in this rhythm. In fact, drug abusers often turn to illicit substances to help them stay awake longer or fall asleep on demand. These disruptions can make it more difficult to fall asleep and wake up without the use of substances.
If your circadian rhythm is disrupted, help it get back to normal by setting a strict sleep schedule and stick to it. Lay down to sleep at the same time every evening, even if you don’t actually fall asleep easily at first, and set your alarm to wake up at the same time each morning. If you don’t get a full night’s rest one night, a short 20-minute nap may be helpful. Avoid long periods of midday rest because then you may not be tired enough to fall asleep at bedtime, perpetuating undesirable sleep issues.
Stay active & eat thoughtfully
A great deal of research has been conducted and shown that regular exercise and a healthy diet contribute to an individual’s quality of sleep. High carb, high sugar diets can cause severe fluctuations in blood sugar and energy throughout the day (ie: sugar rushes and crashes). Sugar crashes may lead to long naps that throw off your sleep schedule. Additionally, consuming high caffeine beverages late in the day may make falling asleep more of a challenge. Exercise on the other hand encourages your body to naturally produce neurochemicals that regulate energy and focus.
Adjust your environment
You may have heard that your bed should be used for 2 things: sleep and sex. It is so true. Limiting your bedroom usage to these activities can condition your body to know that it is time to sleep when you are in your bed. Avoid using your bed for things like working on your laptop, watching tv, and scrolling through your phone.
Don’t just stop here; consider the other elements that make up your sleep environment. The temperature you keep your home at during the day may not be ideal for when you sleep. Many people prefer a cooler temperature at night while they snuggle under a blanket, but this isn’t true for everyone. Find a temperature that feels most comfortable for you. Also, remove clocks that may cause your mind to get focused on how much time is passing and consider adding some white noise like ASMR or even just a fan.
These small changes can help you get your sleep schedule back on track and minimize the toll insomnia takes during detox. An inpatient detox program can help support these good habits by providing nutritious meals and comfortable rooms for a good night’s sleep. Learn more about your detox options today!