Drugs and alcohol affect the user’s sleep patterns more than they may initially realize. Many alcoholics and drug addicts suffer from sleep disruptions due to the physical effects of their chosen substance, often in addition to the struggles already brought on by other mental health issues. Furthermore, the use of mind-altering substances may cover up pre-existing sleep disorders that come to light when entering recovery. Even those without disorders may be accustomed to passing out, and will become restless when they do not fall asleep the moment their head hits the pillow at night. Considering the strong connect between addiction and mental health issues, we must consider ways in which recovering addicts can sleep without needing to use drugs.
Those who struggle with substance use disorder and are at a loss regarding how to sleep better at night without drugs would do well to learn more about the effects of drugs and alcohol on the user’s nocturnal patterns. The answer to your nightly troubles may very well pertain to your addiction treatment.
The Sleep You Get on Drugs and Alcohol
When a person habitually uses mind-altering substances, their sleep suffers as a result. Those who wonder how to sleep better at night without drugs often fail to realize that the sleep they experienced during substance abuse was not actually restful. For instance, substances known for their sedative effects (such as alcohol) can lead to unconsciousness, but the user does not experience the typical period of REM sleep. On the other side of the coin, drugs with stimulating effects such as cocaine, methamphetamine or certain prescription benzodiazepines may cause disrupted sleep patterns and periodic awakenings throughout the night.
The occurrence of substance-related sleep disorders accounts for the seemingly paradoxical experience of sleeping for several hours only to feel fatigued the next day. Someone who uses drugs or alcohol as a fast-acting cure for insomnia will find themselves feeling just as bad or even worse than if they had stayed up all night battling their natural wakefulness.
More troubling, those who do not know how to sleep better at night without drugs may abuse sleep-inducing medications. These can prove dangerous enough when misused on their own, but those who suffer from drug or alcohol addiction and mental health issues often use them concurrently with other substances. This can lead to reduced heart rate or respiratory depression, to the point that symptoms may become life-threatening. Symptoms become especially dangerous when prescription drug addicts mix sleep disorder medications with anti-anxiety medications or alcohol.
How to Sleep Better at Night without Drugs
Those seeking an answer regarding how to sleep better at night without drugs must first look at the underlying causes of their sleep disorders. The answer may be a co-occurring disorder such as insomnia, but it may be simpler such as blue light exposure right before bed or chronic pain that keeps you up at night. For a quick solution, you might try the following methods and see if they work for you:
- Eliminate blue light by turning off all electronic screens one hour before bedtime
- Use extra pillows to provide comfort wherever you may experience pain at night
- Try a short meditation or count sheep to eliminate racing thoughts
- Do not take any naps during the day
- Do not consume any caffeine after 2PM or cigarettes within two hours of bedtime
- Do not exercise within three hours of bedtime, as it may increase your energy
- Avoid looking at the clock; focusing on your sleeplessness will only make it worse
- Use a white noise machine to eliminate auditory disruptions
- Consume tart cherries for their natural melatonin
- Go old-school and try drinking a glass of warm milk
If you try these methods yet still cannot seem to sleep without consuming a high quantity of sleep disorder medications, the answer may very well be prescription drug addiction treatment. Abusing sleep medications or other drugs is not the answer, and will only continue causing your physical and mental health to deteriorate.
Addiction and Mental Health Treatment
Whether sleep disruptions are caused by substance use, or are merely something that you are trying to self-medicate, they most definitely constitute a co-occurring disorder of your addiction. The best solution is a treatment center that emphasizes both addiction and mental health treatment. Your clinical team can help you dive into the underlying causes of both your substance use and your sleep issues, developing a plan to work through both. The result will be a generally healthier and happier lifestyle, full of drug-free days and restful nights.
Aspire Health Network’s facilities provide just the focus you need. Patients at a facility such as Oceanview Treatment Center will address both the physical and mental effects of their addiction, which include fragmented or restless sleep patterns. When not in therapy, our patients are kept busy with therapeutic and sometimes intensely fun activities. By developing a healthier routine during the day, they ensure that their nights will be far more peaceful. Our programs eliminate the mental chaos that keeps many recovering addicts awake at night, teaching them how to sleep better at night without drugs long after they leave treatment.
If you struggle with addiction and mental health issues, and you just can’t seem to figure out how to sleep better at night without drugs, our programs can help you find a solution. Contact us today for more information, and we’ll help you find the facility with the help you need. You might sleep better tonight just knowing that you have a safe place to go.