Sleep disorders are a common struggle in recovery from addiction
Guest blogger, Alisa, Nestmaven.com
According to a study in the Journal of Addiction Medicine, the incidence of insomnia is five times higher in early recovery than in the general population. Insomnia is not the only sleep disorder associated with addiction; contribute to the development of circadian rhythm disorders, parasomnias and sleep apnea.
The relationship between sleep and addiction goes both ways: while the mechanisms of addiction and withdrawal cause sleep disorders, the resulting sleep deprivation can inhibit the recovery process. The consequences of sleep deprivation include low mood, impulsivity, and poor emotional regulation which increase the likelihood of relapse.
The SMART Recovery approach can be used to identify areas in your life where you are lacking balance. If you are experiencing sleep issues while recovering from an addiction, making changes in your lifestyle and environment can dramatically improve your symptoms.
Timing light exposure for the correct times of day, while avoiding unnecessary light sources as bedtime approaches. Basking in light — especially sunlight — first thing after waking up can help combat sleep inertia; while dimming house lights in the evening signals that it’s time to start winding down for sleep.
Blue light is emitted by electronic device screens (including computers, laptops and smartphones) and is responsible for blocking the release of the sleep hormone melatonin. These devices should be avoided at night, and, when their use is necessary, nightmode should be activated.
Light Therapy is used to treat circadian rhythm disorders and insomnia, the two disorders with the highest incidence in recovery. Light therapy is also a useful tool in treating the depression which frequently occurs alongside drug addiction.
Diet, while an important part of any healthy lifestyle, lends additional benefits to those struggling with sleep disorders.
Foods that inhibit sleep include those high in sugar and refined fats, as well as spicy foods and chocolate depending on its caffeine content. People suffering from sleep disorders should avoid these foods, particularly after midday.
Foods that promote sleep do so by either inducing drowsiness or through inducing muscle relaxation to relieve discomfort. Experts recommend natural sources of magnesium, potassium and B vitamins such as legumes and leafy green vegetables. Dairy products and animal proteins contain tryptophan — a precursor to the neurochemicals serotonin and melatonin which are essential to sleep.