Insomnia is a common phenomenon in early recovery; it’s five times more common for individuals in early recovery than for those who aren’t in recovery. 
Having trouble sleeping sober can lead to extreme exhaustion and fatigue, which can bring about other struggles, including relapse. Our drug and alcohol treatment team at Banyan Treatment Centers explores possible causes of insomnia in early recovery, along with techniques for treating this condition.
What Causes Newly Sober Insomnia?
So, what causes insomnia in early recovery? This insomnia is usually caused by the initial substance abuse. For example, alcoholism can damage an individual’s sleep cycles, as alcohol intake decreases slow wave sleep and prevents REM sleep.  During withdrawals, sleep can be disturbed even further, with REM sleep taking years to return to normal levels after sobriety is achieved. Additional causes of insomnia in recovery include the anxiety associated with addiction and the guilt that many people feel in early addiction recovery.
Tips for Treating Insomnia and Sleeping Sober
Insomnia is risky to recovery, it can even increase the chances of relapse.  So, finding fixes if you’re sober and can’t sleep is imperative. Tips for sleeping sober include:
- Setting up a routine. A regular nighttime routine can help you get in the mindset of heading to bed. Additionally, it’s important to keep to the routine by waking up at the same time everyday to get your body into the rhythm of your desired sleep cycle. Yes, this includes waking up the same time on weekends.
- Create a sleeping space. Your bedroom should be the space where you sleep, not where you watch TV or scroll endlessly on your phone for hours. So, keep these items out of your sleeping space. Low lighting can also help.
- Avoiding caffeine after 2pm. If you are trying to keep a regular sleep cycle, caffeine may be uprooting your plans. Skip the coffee after dinner, caffeine after 2pm may keep you awake longer than you’d like.
- Eating a smaller dinner. Speaking of dinner, a large dinner might be throwing off your sleep pattern. Consider smaller, lighter dinners so you’re not spending all your energy digesting your meal.
Insomnia in early recovery is more common than you may think, but it is also treatable. With these tips, you’ll be back on your sleep schedule and you’ll stop feeling tired.
For more guidance regarding recovery and sobriety, contact our Banyan Treatment Centers team by calling 888-280-4763.
- Journal of Addiction Medicine - An Evidence-Based Review of Insomnia Treatment in Early Recovery
- NCBI - Sleep Disturbance in Substance Use Disorders
- NCBI – Sleep Disorders in Substance Abusers