Insomnia can lead to relapse. 8 ways to get to sleep at night; even while going through withdrawal!

Oct 8 22:55 2007 Christian Shire Print This Article

We don’t often think of sleep as a risk factor to relapse and abuse, but insomnia during long term withdrawal is a significant predictor of further abuse. This is very problematic as one of the symptoms of long term withdrawal off of a great many drugs is a prolonged period of sleep disturbances. Here are 8 ways to get to sleep at night, even while going through withdrawal.

There are a number of things that bring forth temptation and cravings and lead us back to all too frequent relapse and continuing abuse. There are also a great many steps we can take to minimize those risks of relapse; and concrete actions such as avoiding the environments and people likely to tempt abuse have a great influence over ultimate success.

When we get tired,Guest Posting hungry and lonely, we also feel a greater pull back to abuse, more easily get stressed and irritable; and feel our resolve to fight weaken. Eat before you're hungry, have a list of friends at the ready to call when you feel a need, and get enough sleep.

Sounds easy enough, but for anyone going through long term withdrawal, that last one, sleep, seems to give a lot of trouble.

Withdrawal can cause insomnia, and insomnia can cause relapse

Withdrawal off of a great many drugs can induce insomnia, and this insomnia can endure for months or even years after achieving sobriety. Long term abuse of drugs or alcohol can create changes in the brain that take considerable time to completely self regulate, and since the sleep during a period of intoxication and abuse is rarely quality sleep, many of us will have long term sleep deficits to make up. Paradoxically, although we are in many ways sleep deprived, this deprivation keeps us from falling to sleep!

Without sleep we are cranky and weakened, and the temptations to use while lying awake at night can feel overwhelming. Additionally, sleep is linked in as yet not fully understood ways to the reward mechanisms in the brain associated with drug seeking behaviors.

But when struggling with insomnia, sleep feels impossible, and although we would dearly love a good nights rest, sleep eludes us.

Few addictions professionals will ever recommend using sleeping medications with a potential for abuse as a solution to the problem, but there are certain steps you can take to help you to fall asleep at night, and by extension, to help you stay sober.

How to fall asleep while going through withdrawal

1) Get tired. Sounds obvious, but making sure to get enough physically wearying exercise during the day can really help you to fall asleep at night. Make sure that you do not engage in any strenuous activities for a few hours before bed though.

2) Don’t drink coffee for at least 6 hours before bedtime. You don’t need any stimulants fueling your insomnia!

3) No naps. Tempting as they may be, naps rob you of sleep at night, and can worsen insomnia.

4) Get into a routine, and try to go to bed and awake at roughly the same times each day. This can help to program your body towards sleep.

5) Make sure your bedroom is clean, quiet and black as night. You don’t need any distractions.

6) Don’t do anything in your bed except sleep. No TV, no reading, no…

7) If you cannot sleep, after about half an hour get out of bed and do something else for a while before reattempting sleep. The anxiety associated with feelings of insomnia can make it harder to fall asleep.

8) Learn relaxation techniques such as positive imagery, breathing techniques and muscle relaxation strategies.

There are few guarantees or sure techniques to sleep, but by following all of the recommendations on the list above, you have a much improved chance of a restful sleep, and a following day of fewer temptations and craving.

If even after trying the above recommendations, you still cannot sleep, it can be helpful to discuss the problem with a sleep therapist.

Sleep is important, a lack of sleep can lead to relapse, and you need to do all you can to get a sound sleep each and every night.

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Christian Shire
Christian Shire

Learn more about staying sober at ChooseHelp Hope and Sobriety and read the daily addiction blog Troubleblog Alcohol and the Family

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