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San Diego Sober Living - Recovery

Insomnia & Sobriety: How Long Do Sleep Issues Last?

Insomnia and other sleep disorders that prevent a good night’s sleep are quite common among people who are in search of sobriety. In Between Breaths, an addiction memoir written by American journalist Elizabeth Vargas in 2016, the subject of sober insomnia takes up a few chapters, and it’s described as one of the most physically uncomfortable aspects of her journey to recovery from alcoholism. 

In 2003, a longitudinal study published in the Sleep Medicine Reviews journal estimated that up to 76 percent of recovering alcoholics deal with insomnia and irregular sleep patterns that can last anywhere from weeks to months. Many patients who recover from addictions to opioids and stimulants also experience sleep disruptions that are more intense than when they were actively using drugs.

Insomnia & Alcoholism

The inability of alcoholics in recovery to get good sleep is fairly common, and it’s related to neurochemical changes brought on by heavy drinking. For many alcoholics, insomnia occurs shortly after beginning a period of abstinence, which strongly suggests it’s a symptom of severe withdrawal. For other alcoholics, insomnia is a byproduct of poor sleep hygiene that often happens after binging or getting inebriated on a daily basis. Not many alcoholics experience insomnia during detoxification. Most of them encounter this condition approximately a week after their last drink, and it can last as long as six months in some cases.

Insomnia & Opioid Use Disorder

Despite the historical use of opium and its derivatives as a sleep aid, several studies conducted over the last two decades indicate an opposite effect once dependence starts creeping in, which for many addicts can be as little as a few days of substance abuse. Opioids and benzodiazepines are known to induce sleep by putting people into states of unconsciousness, but this is a form of deep sleep without rapid eye movement (REM), which isn’t conducive to ideal sleep hygiene. Insomnia related to opioid use disorder usually lasts a few days if other withdrawal symptoms can be managed to avoid relapse.

Insomnia & Stimulant Abuse

With substances such as cocaine and methamphetamine, insomnia during recovery is a clear sign of withdrawal, but it’s more closely tied to psychological dependence. Patients who recover from stimulant abuse can deal with insomnia in various ways. Unlike with opioids or liquor, sleep medications tend to be more effective, and good sleep hygiene can be achieved within a few days as long as patients aren’t besieged by other mental health issues.

Treating Insomnia during Recovery

Getting good sleep is crucial for patients in recovery, and this may require behavioral counseling with an emphasis on implementing sleep hygiene practices. When they participate in programs in sober living homes, Encinitas patients should be able to get solid REM sleep before they leave the facilities, but this may not always be the case. What is important is to stick to the recommended sleep hygiene plan, which may include meditation and exercise routines.

If you’re newly sober and you need help with sleep issues, call on the experienced team at Casa Pacifica. Along with providing Encinitas sober living housing for men, we work with each individual resident to develop a customized plan that combines treatment, aftercare, and recovery support. We provide sober companionship, coaching, and mentorship for those who are recovering from addiction to alcohol and other drugs. For more information about our sober living facilities, call us today at (760) 230-2996.

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