The staggering number of people who have quit alcohol or drugs may shock you: 23 million. But, if you exhibit symptoms of alcohol withdrawal, know that you are not alone in this experience.
Although alcohol withdrawal is the most challenging part of the recovery process, it is also an essential first step.
Insomnia is a common withdrawal symptom for alcoholics. Insomnia was reported by 58% of male alcoholics within the first six days of alcohol abstinence. Sleep problems, staying asleep, and/or getting quality sleep are all hallmarks of insomnia.
When someone is detoxing from alcohol, sleep quality typically decreases. This is due to severe symptoms, including sleep issues and hallucinations—many people who quit drinking on their end up in a hospital.
It’s not uncommon for insomnia to linger for several weeks after someone has stopped using drugs.
Scientific investigation has demonstrated that insomnia is prevalent during alcohol withdrawal. And may even persist after detoxification has been completed.
Furthermore, insomnia, if untreated, can lead to relapse to alcohol use in the early stages of sobriety. So, achieving sobriety requires proper treatment of insomnia caused by alcohol use.
Finding methods to enhance sleep quality without alcohol can lower the likelihood of relapse. Continue reading to learn more about alcohol withdrawal, insomnia, and future sleep management strategies.
Alcohol Withdrawal Insomnia
Those who struggle with alcoholism develop a physiological tolerance to it over time. As a result, alcohol withdrawal forces the body to undergo a rapid chemical readjustment.
Many symptoms, including extreme insomnia, have been linked to this condition.
According to Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration data, 25%–75% of alcohol use disorder patients who seek treatment have problems sleeping. It’s hard enough to get to sleep, and then it’s harder to stay asleep all night long and get good rest.
But, alcohol withdrawal insomnia can appear for many causes, including but not limited to other withdrawal symptoms.
Alcohol is a sedative, so those who use it to sleep may struggle when they stop drinking. Alcohol withdrawal may also worsen sleeplessness.
Some medications can further exacerbate the issue, especially if you are already involved in a rehabilitation program.
If left untreated, insomnia that often accompanies alcohol withdrawal can linger for months or even years.
How to Deal With Alcohol Withdrawal Insomnia?
An alcoholic should try cutting back on their consumption before quitting altogether. Don’t try to quit without medical help, especially if you’ve already developed withdrawal symptoms. And, if possible, avoid therapy until they have exhausted all other options.
Lack of quality sleep can negatively affect your mental and physical well-being. So, it can be harmful to sober people by encouraging them to drink again.
To beat insomnia caused by alcohol withdrawal, you need more than to sleep through the night. In the long term, it will assist you in maintaining your sobriety.
Good sleep hygiene is the most effective defense against the negative effects of alcohol abuse. Also, maintaining a regular nighttime routine can be an effective, long-term treatment for insomnia.
The tips below may be helpful.
1. Follow a Sleep Schedule
The more consistent you are with your sober routine, the easier it will be on your body and mind as they acclimate to a new normal.
While your schedule will be set for you during residential alcohol treatment, it is also crucial to stick to a routine while you are on your own.
Your internal clock will suffer if you don’t sleep roughly the same time each night. It speeds up and smoothest the transformation. Thus, reducing insomnia and other alcohol withdrawal sleep issues.
2. Establish a Bedtime Routine
Establishing a regular bedtime routine can be helpful for alcohol withdrawal insomnia. Your mind and body might need some time to unwind before you can fall asleep.
If you keep to a consistent and soothing schedule, your mind will learn to associate your activities before bedtime as a cue to prepare for sleep. With this link established, you should easily drift off to sleep.
3. Stay Away From The Screen
If you want to get a good night’s sleep, you should avoid using electronic devices. The blue light from screens disrupts your natural sleep-wake cycle. This is especially effective after you’re in bed.
Due to this disruption, your mind and body will be less convinced that it is time for sleep. Also the sleep-inducing hormone melatonin is also suppressed in the brain.
4. Keep Your Bedroom Only For Sleep
It’s not good for your sleep hygiene to lie in bed and watch TV at any time of day. It’s the same for anything you do in bed, whether it’s work, eating, or anything else. (Sex, however, is an exception because it can induce sleep due to the hormones it produces.)
When you go to bed in a room that has only been set aside for sleeping, your body automatically prepares for sleep.
5. Don’t Sleep Hungry
There’s a common belief that dinner at 11 p.m. is a poor idea. This is because when you sleep, your body turns certain nutrients into fat rather than burning them off during the day.
But if you don’t eat before bed, you can toss and turn or wake up in the middle of the night for food.
If you want to make it till breakfast, you should eat something healthy and light before bed. It’s also important to stay hydrated; avoid waking up with a dry mouth by drinking water before bed.
But don’t drink so much that you must get up several times at night to use the bathroom.
6. Avoid Naps
Although daytime naps reduce sleepiness, they prevent you from nodding off at night.
Napping and nighttime insomnia might develop if you have trouble falling asleep. If you skip naps, you’ll get to the right level of exhaustion for bedtime.
Nap only for a short period of time if you need to go through the day without sleeping. A good range to aim for is 10–20 minutes to avoid sleepiness.
If you need to nap, do it earlier in the day (but not later than 3:00 p.m.) so that you can get sleepy again before bedtime.
7. Exercise Regularly
Regular exercise benefits your health and helps you recover from alcohol addiction. Endorphins (happy hormones) are released during physical activity, and stress is lowered. In addition, happy people tend to have better sleep patterns.
Additionally, if you are active during the day, your body will demand a more extended period of sleep at night. On the other hand, a sedentary lifestyle, where you do nothing but sit all day, might lead to insomnia because it doesn’t tire you out physically.
8. Try Relaxation Techniques
Yoga and meditation are excellent stress relief methods that can be practiced before bed. Insomnia is common because of the stress of the day, the difficulty of a problem, or any other source of anxiety.
You can finally get some shut-eye by slowing down your mental and physical processes. In the face of distracting noise, all it takes to fall asleep is to concentrate on your breathing and slow it down.
10. Explore Behavioral Therapy
Getting a good night’s sleep may need more than just a change in routine for those with chronic insomnia (beyond that caused by alcohol). Behavioral therapy can effectively treat insomnia if the underlying reasons are diagnosed and addressed.
CBT, an evidence-based treatment for many mental health disorders, works well for alcohol consumption disorders.
Working with a therapist can help you address the negative thought patterns causing emotional distress. The more positive thoughts you cultivate, the happier and healthier you’ll become.
11. Ask a Doctor About Medications
Insomnia caused by alcohol withdrawal can worsen with any medicine not prescribed by a doctor. But, addiction physicians have found that acamprosate can help alcohol withdrawal patients sleep.
It has been shown that Tetrabamate and Diazepam can aid those going through alcohol detox to sleep better. Diazepam cures anxiety, muscle spasms, and seizures, while Tetrabamate treats alcohol withdrawal symptoms.
Insomnia medication options include benzodiazepines and non-benzodiazepine medications. As a rule, non-benzodiazepine sedatives should be used instead of benzodiazepines, which are habit-forming.
Acute alcohol withdrawal may benefit from the usage of benzodiazepines. But, most experts in the field of addiction treatment do not advise prescribing sedative-hypnotic medicines to patients who are struggling with alcoholism.
This is due to the higher risk of abuse associated with these substances among people with alcohol dependence.
Months into sobriety, it may be time to seek assistance if you’re still unsure how to handle alcohol insomnia or other serious sleep disruptions.
If you or a loved one have insomnia due to alcohol withdrawal, seek immediate treatment to prevent further issues. Your long-term health and sobriety are at risk. So you must get the treatment you need to prevent further damage.
You might have a sleep condition that needs specialized treatment. Sleep medicine doctors or specialists could help find lasting relief from these issues.
Insomnia after giving up alcohol is a common side effect, and it may take time to learn how to manage it. Unfortunately, there is no magic bullet. So you’ll have to try several things until you find what works best for you.
Working with your doctor allows you to establish regular sleep patterns and get ready for addiction treatment. Also, healing and a higher quality of life can be significantly aided by practicing good sleep hygiene.