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 is common for people in the initial stages of recovery to have trouble sleeping. If you are in this situation or know someone who is, we are sharing some tips on how to sleep with opiate withdrawal that can help.
Why Does Opiate Withdrawal Cause Insomnia?
Along with the dreaded physical symptoms of opiate withdrawal there are some less than enjoyable side effects. For many people in an opioid treatment program, this includes insomnia.
Opioids do cause insomnia during withdrawal, which is otherwise referred to as opioid-induced insomnia. Many people who go through withdrawal also report low-quality sleep, drowsiness during the day, and problems staying asleep.1
Insomnia occurs during opiate withdrawal because the body is 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.
As a result, it can take a long time for the individual to navigate how to sleep during withdrawal. For some people, this may mean months of sleep disturbances through inpatient and outpatient drug treatment programs that gradually gets better with time.
How Long Does Insomnia From Opiate Withdrawal Last?
According to a study on opiate withdrawal and sleep, sleep disturbances were seen among every participant, all of which were withdrawn from opiates like methadone. In this study, opiate withdrawal insomnia was most prevalent within the first 14 days of withdrawal, after which participants’ sleep patterns improved.2
Additionally, as late as one month after admission, there was a considerable difference in subjects’ sleep patterns, with mean values ranging between 4 hours and 6 hours of sleep. Researchers would give participants of one group in the study electrostimulation to test if the technique would improve sleep, but it was found to be unsatisfactory for managing insomnia during opiate withdrawal.2
How to Sleep Through Opiate Withdrawal
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.3 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 sleep with opiate withdrawal.
Keep a Sleep Schedule
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 every day, including 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.
Have a Pre-Sleep Routine
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.
Do Not Nap
When learning how to sleep during opiate withdrawal, you will feel tired during the day, and you will feel tempted to take a “short” nap. Fight this temptation. While this may feel good at 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.
Practice Healthy Habits
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.
See a Doctor
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 Chicago rehab 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 Illinois addiction treatment, call Banyan Treatment Centers now at 888-280-4763.