Why Sleep is Critical During Recovery

Learn why sleep in critical during recoveryOne person shared their story of struggling with addiction via Talk Space, an app that connects individuals to therapists. For one person in particular, Ritalin – a stimulant often used to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) – was the drug of choice. He explained,

“…My drug life was incompatible with my work life. I couldn’t go out partying on a Sunday night, coasting home at 4:00 AM on Monday morning, and hope to be productive at work, though I tried. I remember one of these Mondays, falling asleep while a coworker was talking to me.”

It’s not surprising that drug abuse interferes with our sleep cycle. Tuck, an online resource database that provides information on sleep hygiene, health and wellness, explained in 2018 that individuals with addiction are 5 to 10 times more likely to have a comorbid sleeping disorder; since substances change the brain’s chemical architecture, sleep becomes more difficult as substances like alcohol can affect REM sleep – a heavy cycle of sleep where we dream, process information we previously learned and the transference of this information to longer-term memory. Unfortunately, sleep doesn’t quickly become replenished even once a person is in recovery: it takes time.

A 2017 study published in the journal Social Science and Medicine sought to explore sleep waves of individuals in recovery from substance abuse. After conducting interview with 28 individuals and assessing sleeping diaries, as well as analyzing reports that measure movement during sleep, researchers found a number of key points:

  • While many participants want to become realigned in sleep, it’s difficult to achieve and does take time
  • For many recovering, the anxiety produced over sleep is sometime enough of a disruption to actually create challenges during sleep recovery

Nonetheless, it’s imperative for those in recovery to try and create a proper sleeping schedule. Insomnia is an unfortunate experience for many who are still restoring their mental, physical and spiritual health, but re-establishing sleeping cycles as well as practicing proper sleep hygiene can make a huge difference. The next time you go to bed, try drinking a cup of warm caffeine- free tea, meditation, or another soothing activity. Try to stay active throughout the day, so that your mind and body are ready for rest by the time you lie down.

Cumberland Heights is a nonprofit alcohol and drug-addiction treatment center located on the banks of the Cumberland river in Nashville, Tennessee. On a sprawling 177-acre campus, we are made up of 2 12-Step immersion campuses, 12 outpatient recovery centers and 4 sober living homes. We believe that each person has a unique story to tell – and that’s why we always put the patient first.