The first stage of addiction recovery for any drug is usually detox. While necessary, detox is often accompanied by some uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms. An opioid detox, in particular, may involve nausea, muscle aches, stomach cramps, and insomnia. Unfortunately, opioid withdrawal and insomnia go hand in hand, and it’s pretty common for people in the early stages of recovery to have trouble sleeping. If you’re in this situation or know someone who is, we’re sharing some tips on how to get sleep during opiate withdrawal.
Along with the dreaded physical symptoms of opiate withdrawal are some less than enjoyable side effects. For many people in an opioid treatment program, this includes insomnia.
Insomnia during opiate withdrawal is common. Many people who go through withdrawal also report low-quality sleep, drowsiness during the day, and problems staying asleep.1 Withdrawal insomnia occurs because the body is likely struggling to adjust to a normal sleep rhythm again. Opioid abuse can interfere with the sleep cycle, including decreased REM sleep and changes in the time spent in other sleep stages.1
Additionally, not only does opioid addiction lead to changes in their sleep cycle, but many people on drugs do not follow healthy sleep habits. This means that a person who has used drugs for a long period may struggle to change what’s become their normal routine. It can take a long time for their body and mind to adjust to their new schedule. For some people, this may mean months of sleep disturbances through inpatient and outpatient drug treatment programs that gradually get better with time.
Because sleep is important for everything from immune system support to learning and memory, insomnia can be taxing on a person’s body and mind.2 For someone who has used drugs for a long time, opioid withdrawal insomnia can make recovery even more difficult. To make it through treatment and start to see progress in recovery, you need to learn how to get sleep during opiate withdrawal.
Many addicts keep strange sleep schedules such as staying up too late and sleeping during the day. This irregular sleep schedule can mess up a person’s circadian rhythm, the internal process that regulates sleep. When in recovery, it’s important to reset your internal clock with a more regular sleep schedule. This includes waking up and going to bed at the same time on the weekend or on days when you do not need to get up for work. Eventually, your body will become accustomed to this new routine and you’ll begin to feel more rested.
Although you may be starting to go to bed at more regular hours, your body may have a hard time adjusting to this new schedule. To help yourself with the transition, you should keep a regular pre-sleep routine. Try to engage in some relaxing activities the hour or so before bed like taking a bath, reading out of bed, listening to calming music, drinking decaffeinated tea, or meditation. This signals to your body and mind that it is time for bed and makes falling asleep easier.
While coffee may be the pick-me-up you think you need in the morning, it could be your downfall later in the day. Caffeine is a natural stimulant that leads to a cycle of energy boosts and crashes that can disrupt your body’s adjustment to a new sleep schedule. It’s especially important to avoid any caffeine before bed. This includes coffee, soda, energy drinks, and tea.
Because you are not getting enough sleep at night, it’s tempting to want to nap during the day. While this may feel good in the moment, this is bad in the long run. Napping can interfere with your body’s circadian rhythm and delay your body’s adjustment back to a normal sleep schedule. It might be tough at the beginning, but try to get up and go for a walk or stay active whenever you feel like napping. This will increase your chances of getting a full night’s rest.
Along with following a better sleep schedule, you will also want to practice a healthy lifestyle. Regular exercise and a healthy diet can both help improve sleep quality, as well. While exercising when you are feeling fatigued can be challenging, staying inactive throughout the day can confuse your body. A diet high in sugar and junk food can also interfere with your energy levels and sleep. Additionally, exercise can reduce stress and boost your mood, both of which can greatly supplement your recovery.
If none of the tips above are helping you with withdrawal insomnia, it may be a sign that there is a larger problem at hand. You, like many other people, could be suffering from a sleep disorder. Talk to a specialist about what you can do to manage your sleep problems.
While there is no magic cure for opiate withdrawal insomnia, these tips could help you sleep better during the process and help you feel better overall. For those still looking for sobriety, our drug rehab in Chicago can help you get sober and work through the many adjustments that come with addiction recovery for long-term success.
You should not have to go through recovery alone. From the strongest to weakest opioids, we offer treatment for all kinds of substance use disorders. To learn more about our levels of substance abuse treatment at Banyan Chicago, call us now at 888-280-4763.