Skip to main content

The Importance Sleep Plays in Recovery

According to data from the National Institute of Health, about 10 percent of US adults have a drug use disorder at some point in their lives. While substance abuse disorders are a common problem, many people are able to move past them and get back on track living a healthy and fulfilling life. In fact, roughly three-quarters of people who experience an addiction eventually recover.

While recovery after an addiction may seem difficult, with the proper support, anyone can do it. One of the most important aspects of recovery is sleep. People are twice as likely to relapse if they’re not getting good sleep. That’s why it’s essential to prioritize sleep while you’re recovering from a substance abuse disorder. Here’s how sleep will help you during the recovery process.

Improves Mental Health

Poor sleep is a major contributor to mental health issues. Numerous studies have found that sleep can cause anxiety and depression or worsen symptoms in people diagnosed with these issues. This can complicate the recovery process because many people with substance abuse disorders also have mental illnesses. In some cases, people with mental illness develop habits of drug or alcohol abuse as a coping mechanism for mental illness.

It’s essential to treat mental illness during addiction recovery, which means it’s also important to get proper sleep. Without proper sleep, you may have greater difficulty managing symptoms of mental illness.

Poor quality sleep decreases dopamine

Studies have found that low-quality sleep has a negative impact on dopamine in the body. Dopamine is a chemical related to pleasure and motivation. When you don’t get enough sleep, your body struggles to process dopamine, leaving you feeling with a low mood and little motivation.

Dopamine is also significantly affected by the use of drugs and alcohol. When you use these substances regularly, your brain becomes flooded with dopamine, causing it to produce less on its own.

While in addiction recovery, especially in the early stages, you may feel like your mood and motivation are unusually low because your brain is adjusting to the lack of dopamine-boosting substances. Getting sufficient sleep can help counteract this problem by allowing your brain to process as much dopamine as possible.

How much sleep do you need?

Adults need between 7 and 9 hours of high-quality sleep each night. It’s important to pay attention to your body to determine where your needs fall in that range. Don’t assume seven hours is enough if you don’t feel alert and energetic when you wake up.

If you don’t feel well-rested after nine hours of sleep, you may not be getting high-quality sleep. High-quality sleep includes REM sleep and non-REM sleep. These two different stages of sleep have different functions that help your body rest and recharge for the next day.

If you’re not getting enough of either REM or non-REM sleep, you could wake up feeling like you hardly slept. This is very common in the early stages of addiction recovery. Luckily, there are strategies for improving your sleep, allowing you to get the rest you need.

Strategies for sleeping better

While sleep is essential in recovery, it’s also a very common time to experience sleep problems. If you’ve been trying to get the sleep you need, but you’re struggling to fall or stay asleep, try some of these strategies to improve your rest.

Stick to a schedule

Your body has an internal clock called the Circadian Rhythm. This clock keeps track of when it’s time to sleep each night. However, the clock only works if you go to sleep and wake up on a consistent schedule each day.

You’ll have an easier time falling asleep at night if your body knows when it’s time to become drowsy. You can teach your body when it’s time for sleep by setting a specific time for bed and sticking with it every night. A nighttime routine can make this easier.

Many people find journaling, reading a book, or taking a bath to be a good nighttime routine that signals to their body that it’s time to wind down. Any activity that relaxes you and prepares you for sleep can be a good routine.

Avoid Screens

The blue light that comes from electronic screens can upset your body’s Circadian Rhythm. The Circadian Rhythm is very affected by any type of light. When the sun goes down, your body begins preparing for sleep. However, if you’re using your phone, computer, or TV up until you go to bed, your body might not realize the sun has already gone down.

To ensure your Circadian Rhythm is functioning properly, avoid using electronics during the 2-3 hours leading up to bedtime.

If you must use screens before bed, try using blue light-blocking glasses. These glasses will help block the light from your electronics, allowing your body to prepare for bed properly.

Natural Supplements

In the early stages of addiction recovery, getting enough sleep can feel like an unreachable goal. If you’re still not sleeping well, even when sticking to a sleep schedule and avoiding light from electronics, natural sleep supplements can give you the extra help you need.

Melatonin and magnesium are known for their sleep-boosting qualities. Melatonin is a hormone that your body produces naturally. It is what makes you feel tired, however, if you aren’t feeling tired when it’s time to go to bed, you can boost the melatonin in your body by taking melatonin supplements.

Magnesium is a mineral found in foods like legumes, green vegetables, and whole grains. It can also be taken as a supplement to aid with sleep. Some studies have found magnesium to relax the muscles in the body and contribute to higher-quality sleep. A medical professional can give you a recommendation as to which supplements could help you improve your sleep.

If you’re struggling with an addiction, Jackson House can help you find the support you need to reach a full recovery. Reach out to discuss how to best move forward with treatment.

Back to top