As a licensed substance abuse counselor, one constant I have found is how difficult meaningful sleep is for those early in recovery. According to the Journal of Addiction Medicine Insomnia is 5 times more prevalent for those in recovery than the general population. We can't sleep, so we reach out for sugary foods or drinks to comfort us exasperating the problem. The lack of restful sleep can put you at risk for a return to drugs or alcohol — all the more reason to get a good sleep habit established early in recovery.
So what keeps people in recovery up at night? For most, they are the same fears and anxiety people used over. Poor sleep quality can also result in cravings for drugs. A recent study conducted by the researches at Penn State found that patients who reported lower sleep quality also experienced higher than usual drug cravings. So, before you reach for the bag cookies (or worse) try some these tips listed below to improve the quality of your sleep.
- Establish a regular sleep routine by going to bed at the same time each night and limiting electronic devices for 1-2 hours before bedtime.
- Create a sleep environment. Ensure the bedroom is for sleeping only — no TV or video games. Use low lighting.
- Drink herbal tea: chamomile, valerian, or try another herbal sleep remedy (consult a physician before starting any supplements).
- Try exercising during the day to promote sleep.
- Have a relaxing Epsom salt bath before bed.
- Consider taking a magnesium supplement (ask your doctor first).
- Practice relaxation techniques like a body scan meditation.
- Avoid eating a large meal before bed.
- Use an eye mask and ear plugs (or a white noise machine
- Use a light-blocking curtain or shade.
- If you find yourself tossing and turning for more than 30 minutes, get up and do something else until you feel tired again.
- Try to get up at the same time each day.
- Avoid caffeine after 2 p.m.