Scientists understand a lot more about sleep today than they did a decade ago, but there are still things to learn about our natural ‘power charging’ state – especially in recovery.
Prevention Before Treatment
For instance, there is a big difference between the symptoms lack of sleep brings in a healthy brain in comparison to one that’s been touched by substance-use disorder (in most cases the substance doesn’t matter since the addiction is the underlying issue). If a healthy person will experience difficulties in concentration and temporary memory failures, a person dealing with addiction risks a relapse even though they’ve been sober for a while and doing well.
While relapsing can be seen as part of the journey to a better life and a more secure self (both emotionally and physically), it is not something anyone wants to go through more than needed. Of course, there are ways to come out of the experience a bit more knowledgeable, but I always recommend prevention before treatment.
But, to prevent, one needs to understand why a lack of sleep has such devastating effects on a recovering addict in comparison to a healthy person.
The Link Between Sleep Deprivation And Addiction
The main symptoms of sleep deprivation show up at brain level, impairing judgment, creating confusion, and overall inducing various cravings. For instance, a healthy person who doesn’t have good sleep habits will end up feeling hungry and craving fatty foods and sweets. On the other hand, the cravings of an addict are always related to their drug of choice, and sleep deprivation will only increase the risk of relapsing.
When the brain is sleep deprived, you lack control over your own thoughts and cravings. Everything becomes less important than getting your needs satisfied and logical thinking is usually down-voted. So, if a healthy brain can simply sleep these symptoms off, an addict will have to battle on two different fronts at once.
Not to mention that long-term substance abuse can cause a series of sleep problems such as apnea, difficulty in reaching a REM sleep level, and more.
How To Get Back On Track
The things I mentioned above are serious in nature, but it’s important to understand that sleep deprivation will happen from time to time. Maybe you’re working on an important project or you’re undergoing a stressful period in your life, sleep will get disturbed from time to time.
This is why you need emotional sobriety; you need to understand that shitty things will happen regardless of the fact that you’re sober or not. The only thing that matters is how you deal with the situation when it gets bad.
In the case of sleep-disturbed times, it’s important to recognize the signs:
⦁ Mental fogginess with difficulties focusing during the day;
⦁ A drop in general productivity without a strong reason;
⦁ Constant cravings;
⦁ You’re tired all the time and you wake up feeling stiff and in physical pain.
If several of these signs show up and you know your sleep Is not at the best levels of quality, it’s time to take measures!
Improve Sleep Quality
Getting a good night sleep after your natural sleep cycle has been disturbed is not an easy thing, but it can be done with a few tricks. And, of course, if you act on time.
Transform Your Bedroom Into A Sleep Sanctuary
First, I recommend transforming your bedroom into a sleep sanctuary. This means removing all disturbances, including light and electronic devices (phone, TV, and others). Studies show that these are the main disturbances, especially if you’re a light sleeper or have troubles getting into and sustaining slumber.
Ask Anyone In The House To Avoid Loud Noises
Second, ask anyone else in the house to avoid any loud noises, and try to improve your windows so the sound from the street will be diminished.
Get Drowsy Before Bed
Third, find ways to help your brain get drowsy before bed; things like hot baths, drinking a glass of warm milk, or even Yoga before going to sleep will help.
Ask For Specialized Advice
Finally, if nothing seems to help, ask for specialized advice. You may be suffering from a more serious health problem that needs to be addressed before it comes more serious.
While it may seem like yet another thing to be conscious about, sleep deprivation is not something to toy with! If left unaddressed, it will create permanent damages regardless of your state of health, but it is proven it will affect addicts first. So, try to keep a sleep schedule and keep an eye on how you feel each morning.