Healthy Sleep is beneficial for everyone, but for people in recovery, it can make or break a rough period.
The benefits sleep are enormous. To name a few, we have better mental and emotional health, an improvement in mood, increased alertness—that’s not even talking about the physical benefits. We need sleep because it lends itself to a smoother and more lasting recovery. However, often in early sobriety, it’s tough to find a good night’s sleep. All sleep is not equal, so we’ll talk about why healthy sleep is more than catching a few zzzs.
People in early recovery often have these sleep problems
- Problems falling asleep
- Constant disturbances in the middle of the night
- Difficulty falling back to sleep
- Constant, nagging thoughts while trying to sleep
- Feeling exhausted in the morning
- Lengthy hours of sleep with no satisfaction
Here’s why it’s so hard to get healthy sleep in early recovery
Withdrawal. How many nights did you fall asleep with the help of substances or alcohol? Without them, your body has to relearn how to fall asleep on its own. It’s important learn how to establish these sleep cycles without the help of any medication, so how best to get started?
Luckily there’s a solution: It’s called Sleep Hygiene, and it’s defined by the National Sleep Foundation:
“A variety of different practices and habits that are necessary to have good nighttime sleep quality and full daytime alertness”–National Sleep Foundation
7 basic tips for to achieve healthy sleep
1. Turn it off. Get off the phone, computer, tablet, TV—whatever you use. Turn it off at least two hours prior to going to bed.
2. Create a cave. Make sure your room is dark and cool. It’s important to eliminate any unnecessary lights that could disturb your sleep cycle. And don’t forget to cool down your room before heading to bed. No one likes waking up in the middle of the night to kick off sweaty blankets.
3. No silence? No problem. If you can’t sleep in total silence or there’s noise that you just can’t control, invest in a white noise machine. Don’t fall asleep to the TV or your favorite streaming app.
4. Cancel the caffeine. Limit or totally cut out mid-day caffeine. If you’re reaching for coffee after 3 in the afternoon, there’s a good chance it’ll keep you up at night.
5. Exercise early. Exercise in the morning instead of the evening. It’ll get your heart pumping and give you energy for the day.
6. Don’t stay up late. Do you have a bedtime? As elementary as it sounds, it helps you develop a better sleep routine.
7. Log your sleep. If you’re really struggling to have a good night’s sleep, note the times you wake and an estimate of how long they lasted. Log nightmares or stressful dreams. Write down what you did before heading to bed and see if you pick up on any patterns. Discuss this with your counselor, sponsor, or trusted friends in recovery.
Once your body and brain are used to a new routine, you’ll be surprised by how easy it is fall asleep and have a good night’s rest before you know it. Healthy sleep is important to a healthy recovery so take the time to figure out the best sleep hygiene for you.