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Creating a Healthy Sleep Routine in Recovery

Creating a Healthy Sleep Routine in Recovery

Some people seem to be able to fall asleep as soon as their head hits the pillow while others may spend hours tossing and turning.

Sleep evades everyone every once in a while, but for those in recovery from a substance abuse disorder, getting into a healthy sleep routine is even more important.

The Importance of a Good Sleep Routine in Recovery

In residential and intensive inpatient drug rehabs there is a large focus on routine. Programming and therapy sessions are scheduled throughout the day, and patients are encouraged to start incorporating healthy habits into their routine. This strict schedule is meant to provide patients with structure and consistency that can assist them in the recovery process. While your sleeping schedule may seem more flexible, creating a healthy sleep routine in recovery could make all of the difference.

Getting good sleep is important for everyone but can have added benefits for those in recovery from a substance abuse problem. Long-term drug addicts and alcoholics are typically not in the best health physically or mentally. During recovery, their body is trying to heal from the damage that their addiction caused. Lack of sleep can already lead to a wide range of health problems including hypertension, obesity, cardiovascular disease, impaired immune system, mood disorders, and neurodegeneration.1 Because recovering addicts may already be struggling with these issues, sleep is even more important. Poor sleep can also put someone at a greater risk of relapse.2

How to Get into a Sleep Routine in Early Recovery

Sleep problems are not unusual for people in early recovery. Insomnia especially is common for people going through withdrawal during a medical detox as their body tries to adjust to no longer having the substances it has become dependent on in its system. While getting a good night’s rest can be troublesome for people in recovery, it is not impossible. One of the best ways to do so is to start building a good bedtime routine. These tips on how to create a healthy sleep routine in recovery could help you finally find peaceful sleep.

Set a Schedule

One of the most important parts of creating a healthy sleep routine in addiction recovery is following a good sleep schedule. You should try to go to bed and wake up around the same time every day even when you do not have work. Keeping a regular sleep schedule helps your body learn when it is time for bed and should make it easier to fall asleep.

Jot Down Your Worries

Everyone gets stressed out or anxious sometimes, but if you underwent mental health treatment during rehab, you may struggle with these problems more than the average person. These worries can literally keep you up at night, so one way to combat them is to write down these anxiety, stressors, and fears before bed. Every day take a few minutes to jot down these thoughts so that you can get them out of your head. Dinnertime is a good time to do this because it gives you enough time before bed to separate these thoughts from your mind.

Wind Down

Part of creating a healthy sleep routine in recovery is creating a good pre-sleep routine as well. An hour or so before you plan to go to sleep, you should start trying to get ready for bed. This wind-down time may include taking a warm bath, meditating, having decaffeinated tea, reading outside of bed, light stretching, listening to relaxing music, or practicing substance abuse therapies you learned during treatment. Avoid heavy screen time, a lot of movement, or snacking right before bed.  Try to be consistent as well. Doing the same activity every night before you go to sleep can help your body recognize that bedtime is approaching and help you fall asleep faster.

Keep a Dream Journal

Relapse dreams are common for people in recovery. Instead of letting these dreams continue to haunt you, always write down your dreams in a dream journal right after they occur. When you write them down as well as your feelings surrounding them, you can better work through these emotions and possibly avoid more dreams like them in the future. These dreams may also be worth discussing in your recovery meetings to see how others are coping.

Be Patient

Sleep problems are common in early recovery as your body is trying to create a new sleep routine without the presence of drugs or alcohol. Especially if you used to rely on these substances to help you fall asleep, this adjustment can take time. Alcohol specifically can interfere with normal sleep patterns, so if you once struggled with alcoholism, it may take longer to get better sleep. Be patient with your body and do not give up on these techniques just because they do not work immediately.

Talk to a Doctor

While everyone has trouble with sleep sometimes, some people’s problems can be more severe. Creating a healthy sleep routine in recovery is much harder if you suffer from a sleep disorder. If weeks after getting sober you are still experiencing serious and consistent sleep disturbances, it may be time to talk to a doctor. They will be able to give you better insight into your problem and might have a solution.

With rehab treatment centers across the country, we have helped countless people not only get sober, but prepare for life outside of treatment. Our dedicated staff are there to help patients through every step of the recovery process even long after treatment is over.

To begin the sobriety journey for yourself or to get more information for a loved one in need, call us today at 888-280-4763. At Bayan Treatment Centers, we are here to help.


  1. NCBI - The Extraordinary Importance of Sleep
  2. NCBI - Sleep Disturbance as a Universal Risk Factor for Relapse in Addictions to Psychoactive Substances
Alyssa, Director of Digital Marketing
Alyssa, Director of Digital Marketing
Alyssa is the National Director of Digital Marketing and is responsible for a multitude of integrated campaigns and events in the behavioral health and addictions field. All articles have been written by Alyssa and medically reviewed by our Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Darrin Mangiacarne.