Sobriety & Sleep Problems: Common Sleep Disturbances in Recovery

Sobriety & Sleep Problems: Common Sleep Disturbances in Recovery

Not everyone falls asleep as soon as their head hits the pillow and wakes up feeling well rested.

Many people struggle to get good sleep on a regular basis but recovering from a substance abuse problem can make this task even more challenging.

Frequent Sleep Problems in Early Sobriety

Many of the patients in our Boston partial hospitalization program complain of getting poor sleep in the early stages of their recovery. In fact, sobriety and sleep problems are so often connected that many people report experiencing more than one sleep disturbance during early recovery.


Early sobriety and insomnia are often connected. It is estimated that substance use problems are the underlying cause of 10-15% of people with chronic insomnia.1 Insomnia is especially common for people with alcohol use disorders both before and after alcohol abuse treatment. In some cases, people may continue to struggle with insomnia even several years after getting sober.

Poor Sleep Quality

It isn’t just problems falling asleep; several people in early recovery experience poorer sleep quality. One study found that as much as 75% of people in cocaine addiction treatment and going through withdrawal had poor sleep quality.2 Poor sleep quality also carried over to college students who had misused psychostimulants in the past.2

Sleep-Disordered Breathing

Sleep-disordered breathing problems like sleep apnea are common in people with substance abuse disorders, especially alcohol abuse, but when abuse stops, this problem doesn’t just go away immediately. Many people in early recovery will continue to experience these problems.2 Fortunately, there are machines that can assist and regulate breathing at night to avoid the long-term problems that can develop from sleep apnea.

Using Dreams

One of the most common sleep disorders in early recovery is using dreams. These nightmares about relapsing can be unsettling for many people, but they do tend to decrease in frequency over time. If they are not going away, there are things you can do to try to better deal with using dreams in recovery.

Part of the relationship between sobriety and sleep problems is that addiction can lead to changes in the brain that impact the sleep cycle. When people are no longer taking these substances, it takes time for the brain to revert back to normal and their sleep to get back on track. Another problem is that many addicts have poor sleep habits. Some depend on these substances to help them fall asleep while others barely get any sleep at all while intoxicated. Regardless of the exact cause, creating a healthy sleep routine in recovery and sticking to it may be able to alleviate some of these problems and also reduce the chances of relapse. Time may be able to help with the rest.

If you or a loved one needs help getting sober, we are here. At Banyan Massachusetts, we are there every step of the way. Call 888-280-4763 now to begin.


  1. NCBI- Disturbed Sleep and Its Relationship to Alcohol Use
  2. SAMHSA- Treating Sleep Problems of People in Recovery From Substance Use Disorders
Alyssa who is the National Director of Digital Marketing, joined the Banyan team in 2016, bringing her five-plus years of experience. She has produced a multitude of integrated campaigns and events in the behavioral health and addictions field. Through strategic marketing campaign concepts, Alyssa has established Banyan as an industry leader and a national household name.