Getting a good night’s sleep can be difficult in early recovery. Due to post-acute withdrawal symptoms, people in early recovery can experience weeks of tossing and turning as well as racing thoughts that prevent them from being able to fall asleep. When they finally do fall asleep, they may find themselves jolted awake by drug dreams that make it difficult to fall back asleep.
The restlessness, racing thoughts, and drug dreams can continue for weeks, even months, as the brain and body acclimate to life without drugs and alcohol. If you are in early recovery and are struggling to get a good night’s sleep, here are some helpful tips that may help you get a better rest during your first few months sober.
Get on a Sleep Schedule
The sleep schedule of someone in active addiction is very different from the sleep schedule of someone in recovery. In active addiction, people usually stay up late into the night and sleep until the afternoon, if they sleep at all. In recovery, people need to be able to go to treatment, 12-step meetings, and work or school. This means sleeping at night and being awake during the day. To make this happen, determine a reasonable time to go to sleep each night and stay up until that time. This means no napping – it’ll throw your sleep schedule off! Make sure to set an alarm for a reasonable time to wake up in the morning. When your alarm goes off, get out of bed even if you’re still tired. In a few days, your sleep schedule should be regulated.
Develop a Nighttime Routine
Getting into a nighttime routine can help to signal your brain that it’s time for sleep. Start to wind down by doing something relaxing like taking a hot shower or reading a chapter in a book. Make sure to stay away from stimulating activities like playing video games, watching TV, and going on your phone. Brush your teeth, change into your pajamas, and you’re ready for bed!
Consider Sleep Aids
Natural supplements available over the counter, like melatonin and valerian root, can help you get a better night’s sleep. Other sleep aids include drinking chamomile tea or using lavender lotion since both have calming properties. Make sure to stop consuming caffeine and nicotine at least two hours before bedtime, since both are stimulants. If you’ve tried natural sleep aids with no success, speak with your doctor about prescription sleep aids that may be helpful to you. Just be sure to mention that you’re in recovery!
Struggling to get a good night’s sleep in early recovery can be frustrating and even triggering. However, there are things you can do to practice good sleep hygiene. Getting on a sleep schedule, implementing a nighttime routine, avoiding stimulating activities, and using sleep aids are all helpful ways to promote a better night’s sleep. Sweet dreams!