Many addictions begin as a way of self-medicating.
People who suffer from depression, insomnia, post-traumatic stress disorder, or other issues may have initially found some relief from their ailment in alcohol or other substances. But self-medicating only works until it does not work anymore, as anyone If you used substances to help you sleep, finding restful sleep in recovery might be challenging.
Not getting the proper amount of rest can disrupt our lives and ultimately affect our recovery. When tired, our tempers are shorter, emotions are on edge, and the world may seem gloomier. Depression can even set in.
Below are some tips to help get into a better sleep pattern as your body adjusts to falling asleep without drugs or alcohol.
- Getting some physical exercise during the day helps relieve stress, releases endorphins, and helps your body rest better at night. It is not good to exercise too close to bedtime, as that may keep you awake because it releases adrenaline.
- Develop a regular schedule. Go to bed at the same time every night and rise at the same time every morning. Try to keep to the same schedule even on days off from work.
- Spending time on electronics (phone, iPad, computer, etc.) may keep you awake at night. Try to not use electronics for at least an hour before bedtime.
- It is a good idea to not have a television in the bedroom. The body and brain need to recognize the bed and bedroom as time for sleep.
- Read a book. Reading in bed helps to take the mind off of the worries or stressors of the day. It is good to have a night light or lamp right next to your bed so that when your eyes and mind tire from reading, you can turn off the light and go to sleep.
- Drink non-caffeinated beverages after 3:00 p.m.
- If you are lying in bed wide awake, it is better to get up and do something than to try to force yourself to sleep.
- Avoid sleeping during the day. If you are exhausted during the day, it is better to try to stay awake and retire a bit earlier in the evening. A cat nap can sometimes ruin a good night’s sleep.
- Learn relaxation techniques such as deep breathing and/or meditation. This puts us more in tune with our bodies. When lying in bed awake, being mindful of breathing can be very helpful in getting yourself to sleep.
For most people in recovery, sleeping patterns will get better within a few weeks after all substances have left the body. When this happens, it will feel so good to wake up clear-minded and energetic that you may forget all of those sleepless nights!