What Is Insomnia, And Why Is It Linked To Detox?

Insomnia occurs when a person has persistent symptoms related to difficulty falling or staying asleep. It also includes consistent unrestful sleep that occurs despite adequate sleep. Insomnia is linked to detox because it is very common in those going through drug or alcohol withdrawal and in the early stages of recovery. According to a study in the Journal of Addiction Medicine, the occurrence of insomnia is five times higher for those in early recovery than in the general population.

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Insomnia And Withdrawal

Insomnia is a very common withdrawal symptom among individuals who are in detox for alcohol or other drug abuse, as their mind, body and spirit are slowly readjusting to not having mood-altering chemicals in their body. Sleep problems can persist for weeks, months, or even years, which can lead to increased anxiety, tiredness, poor concentration, low enthusiasm and irritability. More concerning is that persistent insomnia, especially if left untreated, can interfere with one’s recovery and contribute to relapse. Fortunately, insomnia usually diminishes over time; however, there are many coping skills one can practice in order to improve their sleep by implementing healthy sleep habits.

Tips For Reducing Insomnia During Detox

1. Commit to a Regular Sleep Schedule

Committing to a structured scheduled by going to bed and waking up at the same time each day can make a profound impact on one’s sleep. Having a regular sleep schedule is crucial for setting your body’s internal clock, which is also called your circadian rhythm. The more consistent your sleep is, the better quality of sleep you will achieve.

2. Establish a Relaxing Bedtime Routine

Whether you listen to calming music, read a book, or take a warm bath, establishing a relaxing evening routine will help improve your sleep. Avoid watching TV and using your phone, tablet, or laptop prior to winding down as these activities can trigger your brain to stay awake longer, resulting in sleep disturbances. Limiting the usage of bright screens at least 30 minutes prior to bedtime can help your mind and body slow down and relax.

3. Be Mindful of What You Eat or Drink

Studies suggest avoiding nicotine and caffeine, as they are stimulants, at least four to six hours prior to going to sleep as they will make it more difficult to fall or stay asleep. Be mindful of when you eat, as if you go to bed with an empty stomach you may become hungry, which will disrupt your ability to fall or stay asleep as well. If you are hungry and it is close to your bedtime, eat a small, healthy snack. Also, use caution regarding how many liquids you drink prior to bedtime, as this is important in order to prevent having to wake-up to use the restroom during the middle of the night.

4. Keep Naps Short

If you decide to take a nap during the day, limit your nap to no longer than 30 minutes maximum. Research recommends keeping nap time limited to 15 to 20 minutes to feel more refreshed upon awakening. Napping for longer than 30 minutes during the daytime can disrupt your body’s internal clock, also called your circadian rhythm, making it difficult to fall asleep at your scheduled bedtime. It can further cause increased drowsiness during the daytime.

5. Use Your Bedroom for Sleep Only

Try to make your bedroom as comfortable as possible…for sleeping. Avoid watching TV, working in bed, or using your laptop, tablet, or cell phone while in bed, as they disrupt sleep by triggering your brain to stay awake longer. Limiting your bedroom for primarily sleeping helps you associate your bedroom with sleep, making it easier to fall asleep faster and feel more restful in the morning.

6. Get Regular Exercise

There is a tremendous amount of scientific evidence that contributes exercise with better sleep. Implementing a regular exercise routine can help contribute to falling asleep faster, having more restful sleep, and waking up with increased energy. Physical exercise also helps you obtain more deep and restorative sleep, which can boost your body’s immune system, improve cardiac health, as well as decrease stress and anxiety. When you are physically active, you expend more energy, which will help you feel more tired and ready to rest at the end of each day, all of which make exercise a potent remedy for insomnia.

7. Avoid Watching the Clock

Staring at the clock while you are trying to fall asleep can be very counterproductive as it can increase stress and anxiety levels, making it more difficult to fall asleep. Keeping your bedroom clock turned away from your bed may help reduce the temptation to peek and see what time it is. If you find yourself lying in bed without falling asleep for 20 minutes or longer, it is suggested to get out of bed and do something peaceful while waiting to become drowsier.

Struggling With Insomnia During Detox?

Going long periods without adequate sleep can negatively impact one’s overall physical and mental health. According to a study conducted by The National Institute of Health, symptoms of insomnia that persist for over one month are associated with daytime impairment, psychological distress, increased work absenteeism, poor interpersonal functioning, increased risk for psychiatric disturbances, and increased risk of relapse. Thus, treating insomnia by implementing healthy sleep habits, along with discussing your symptoms with a medical professional, can provide you with the support needed to achieve better sleep, all of which will aid in the progress of your recovery. Contact a treatment provider today to learn more about getting help for yourself or a loved one.

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Theresa Parisi, CAP

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  • Theresa Parisi is a Certified Addiction Professional (CAP), Certified Behavioral Health Case Manager (CBHCM), and International Certified Alcohol and Drug Counselor (ICADC) with over 12 years of experience in the addiction treatment field.

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Certified Addiction Professional

Cindy Hardy