The Importance of Sleep in Recovery

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The Importance of Sleep in Recovery


Although you may not realize it, sleep is essential in maintaining a healthy recovery. Getting a good night’s sleep helps us to better concentrate, cope with stress, and deal with recovery. Sleeping well isn’t just about getting enough sleep, although that is a huge part of it. Instead, sleeping well means that the sleep you are getting is good, restful sleep. Making sure you are getting enough good sleep can help you become more productive and boost your overall mood while in recovery. Furthermore, especially if your substance of choice was alcohol, learning more about how alcohol impacts sleep can help you ensure you’re doing more good than harm.

Why Focus On Sleep?

If you wake up tired every morning and wish you could get a few more hours of shut-eye, you might not be getting as good a sleep as you thought. Good sleep is vital to your overall well-being. Without it, you can’t focus on your recovery and may be more apt to reach for substances to help you get through your day. A few warning signs that you may not be getting enough restful sleep include being unable to quiet your mind, having tense muscles, and experiencing increased anxiety throughout the day. All of these things contribute to a deteriorated overall well-being. The better you sleep, the better you’ll feel in your recovery.

How Can I Get Better Sleep?

Getting better sleep can seem like a difficult task, especially if you think your sleep was pretty good before. You may be unsure of where to begin. You can start by making relaxation your goal if you want to start getting better sleep. Having a relaxing routine that you slip into before bed can help get your mind and body in the mode that you need to get good sleep. A few things that you can include in this routine are practicing deep breathing, using guided visualization, and stretching to relax your muscles. Another thing that you can do to help promote healthier sleep is to put down your electronic devices an hour before you plan to go to bed. This helps you destress before falling asleep and gives you the space to practice some of these relaxation techniques.

How Does Alcohol Use Impact Sleep?

Many people think that having a glass or two of wine before bed helps them sleep. Unfortunately, this is a common misconception. Although alcohol has a sedative effect that may put you to sleep, it disrupts the quality and quantity of your sleep. If you are trying to ween yourself off of alcohol use, stopping your nightly routine of alcohol with dinner is a great place to start. Alcohol affects sleep in many ways, including the following:

#1. Your Body Cannot Rest: Alcohol doesn’t allow your body to naturally rest and rejuvenate because it is working hard to filter out the alcohol from your body. This is a reason why you may wake up feeling not so great after a night where you had a few drinks.

#2. Your Body’s Rhythm Is Interrupted: Drinking in the evening disrupts your body’s natural rhythm, which throws you off course. Your body also doesn’t produce as much melatonin, which is dubbed as your body’s “sleep hormone.”

#3. Rapid Eye Movement (REM): After a night of drinking, your body isn’t able to spend enough time in REM sleep. REM sleep is important in many different ways, including making sure your brain functions well throughout the following day.

#4. Quality of Sleep: Alcohol can contribute to waking up in the second half of the night. This is why you may find yourself wide awake in the wee hours of the morning and unable to fall back asleep. This lack of sleep can lead to increased stress and anxiety and an inability to cope with the stresses and anxieties that you are feeling.

If you find yourself depending on alcohol to put yourself to sleep, you are teaching your body to unlearn its natural nightly rhythm. Thus, on an evening when you do not drink, your body is going to have an extra hard time shutting down and sleeping. This can lead to even more mental health problems, such as depression and anxiety. When people suffer from depression and anxiety, they may start to use other substances to help them cope with how they are feeling. This turns into an endless, harmful cycle. If you add in a lack of sleep to this cycle, it is a recipe for disaster.

If your sleep has been affected due to alcohol or substance use, it may take time before you begin to have quality sleep. It is important that you do not give up and use substances during this time. Instead, try to incorporate healthy coping techniques such as meditation, reading a book, or listening to music before bed to help you relax and fall asleep naturally.

Breaking the habit of drinking alcohol before bed can be a difficult one. If you’re struggling with letting go of that nightly glass of wine, try to find something that will motivate you to stop drinking. Think about how much better you’ll feel tomorrow morning if you do not have that beer or glass of wine tonight. While you’re trying to reduce your intake of alcohol, be mindful of what triggers you to drink and try to avoid putting yourself in those situations. If drinking alcohol has caused your body’s rhythm to be out of balance, know that resetting your body to its natural sleep pattern without alcohol may take some time. Do not become discouraged. If you have a substance use disorder and need help sleeping, we are here to help. At The Kimberly Center, we want to help you make healthy lifestyle adjustments. Learn more by giving us a call today at (855) 452-3683.

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