It can be a challenge to get some sleep when you are in early recovery for addiction. Our minds and bodies are adjusting to not having those abusive substances keep us up at night. By using stress reduction techniques and making sure you are in a dark environment where the light cannot get in, you should be able to sleep soundly.
Insomnia During Alcohol Withdrawal
There are people who drink alcohol thinking it will help their insomnia to get them to fall asleep. The truth is that alcohol increases the time it takes to fall asleep, disrupts sleep time, and increases snoring and apnea. Symptoms can be nightmares, having trouble falling asleep, racing thoughts through the night, etc. Without proper treatment to sleep, your sleep cycle can worsen over time.
Exposure to the morning sunlight is telling our body that it is time for a new day. The stress hormone cortisol gets released to help us get out of bed. We do not want this hormone to be activated at night too. By having our television, computer, smart phones, and tablet screens on, the blue light tells our bodies to shut down the production of the sleep hormone melatonin. Cortisol is produced instead which makes us alert and awake which makes it harder for us to fall asleep. You should add blue light blocking apps to your smartphones and tablets as well as programming your television to turn off an hour before it is time to go to bed. You should instead read a book or listen to soft music like new age or classical. If you prefer to read from a tablet such as a Nook or a Kindle, turn the light off of the Kindle or just listen to an audiobook.
Change Your Sleep Environment
Remember that the sole purpose of your bedroom is to go to sleep. Take a good look at your bed so that you can train your mind that this room is meant for sleeping. It helps to make a clear path of your bed so that there is nothing around that can distract you. This involves picking up your clothes from the floor, straightening your desk, and clearing any clutter off of your bed like excess pillows or stuffed animals. You should also make sure that your room is the right temperature such as making sure that you are sleeping with the fan on to prevent sweating in your sleep. You also do not want to be too cold either so you should make sure that the temperature of your room is 60-70 degrees, according to The National Sleep Foundation.
Keep your room as dark as possible so that no excess light comes in. This may involve closing your blinds or having a shade cover your window. If you want music or other sounds from your television, turn on the function that only turns the picture off. If there are any LED lights still sticking out from your electronics, cover them up with masking tape. A sleeping mask is also a good alternative is light is still able to come into your room as well as wearing reusable earplugs so that you no longer hear anyone in your house or the busy streets.
Nightly Stress Reduction Techniques
You should end the day feeling stress-free and looking forward to the day that will come tomorrow. One stress reduction technique you can do is journal all of your thoughts that are racing in your head right now. Make a recap of all of the good things that have happened to you today and what you look forward to doing tomorrow. If you made any mistakes today in regards to your recovery, write down what you would like to work on and a solution to ensure that it will not happen again. Journaling can be a great way to wipe the slate clean instead of sleeping with those stressful thoughts in your head keeping you up at night.
Another stress reduction technique would be to relax our breathing. Remember that how we breathe is the one thing that we can control from our autonomic nervous system. Try to breathe in for six seconds, hold for seven seconds, and exhale for eight seconds or visualize a box when you breathe. This will help activate the parasympathetic branch of the nervous system which is responsible for how we rest. Meditating for five minutes before it is time to sleep can also be a useful tool to activate the theta brain waves which is associated with deep sleep. This can help us better relax when we have had a stressful day and make it easier to relax to help us fall asleep.
While you may think taking sleeping pills is a wise choice to help you fall asleep, they can also be habit forming and cause you to form another addiction. Taking relaxing herbs, botanicals, and amino acid supplements can be a good alternative to sleep medications without any bad side effects. There is tryptophan which produces melatonin and makes you naturally sedated. There is also gaba which calms and relaxes the neurotransmitters and reduces anxiety. Lemon balm can improve mood as well as promote relaxation. By using any of these techniques at night to help fall asleep, not only will this increase your chances of a successful recovery but also a good night’s sleep.
Located on the shore of Southern New Jersey, Enlightened Solutions is a recovery center that uses evidence-based therapies and holistic healing to treat addiction and mental illness. With the opportunity to learn about therapies that are keyed in to healing the human spirit and learning about new stress reducing techniques centered around a 12 step network, you will be ensure a lasting recovery. For more information, please call us at 833-801-LIVE as we are open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.