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Why Can’t I Sleep Normally During Detox?

Insomnia is a common withdrawal symptom during detox. In the later stages of recovery, insomnia is common for all drugs, for a variety of reasons, but during detox, insomnia is more common in withdrawal from opioids and alcohol. The mechanism is slightly different for each, but basically, these drugs make you sleepy and your body has spent months or years balancing out that effect. When the drug is suddenly gone, your mind is way too amped up. It’s like when your car slips out of gear and the engine suddenly races because it has nothing to push against.

It can take a while to sort out this imbalance. Although the worst symptoms of detox are usually over in about a week, the chemical rebalancing goes on for a while. Even when your brain chemistry is pretty much back to normal, the psychological challenges of recovery, including depression and anxiety, can make sleep difficult. Unfortunately, insomnia can also make recovery difficult. Insomnia is one of the best predictors of relapse.

Here are some research-supported tips for getting better sleep during detox.

Pay attention to the basics. If you have been an addict for a while, you might have gotten used to an erratic sleep schedule. You may have just fallen asleep in random places at random times. You were probably aided by alcohol or drugs and haven’t paid attention to what contributes to a good night’s sleep.

Detox is a good time to relearn how to sleep. Make sure you get up and go to bed at the same time every day, even if you didn’t sleep well the night before. Make sure you don’t drink coffee or tea in the afternoon or evening. Keep your room as dark and quiet as possible when it’s time to sleep. Don’t lie in bed looking at your phone and wondering why you can’t sleep.

CBT-I. This stands for cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia. A therapist can explain this to you in detail and help you learn to use it, but the basic idea is simple. Although part of your insomnia is due to a chemical imbalance, your thinking likely contributes as well. For example, if you lie in bed thinking, “Oh no, I can’t sleep again; this is awful; I’m not going to be able to function at all tomorrow; I’m going to relapse and end up homeless, etc.” then you will feel more anxious and unable to sleep. If you replace those thoughts with more reasonable thoughts, such as, “Well, it’s late and I’m still awake. I’ll probably be tired tomorrow, but it’s not a disaster. It might even help me sleep better tomorrow night,” then you won’t add runaway anxiety to the regular insomnia caused by withdrawal.

Progressive relaxation. In addition to other relaxation methods, like massage, you might try progressive relaxation when you lie down to sleep. This is when you tense a body part, say, your feet, then let go and feel the muscles relax. After a few seconds, move on to the next body part until you have tensed and relaxed your entire body. You may even fall asleep before you finish.

Exercise. This one is pretty simple. Just make yourself tired with moderate exercise. Do it in the morning or afternoon because exercising in the evening can make it harder to sleep.

Ask about medication. It’s best to avoid medication if you can because during detox you still have drugs in your system that can interact with medication. Also, some sleep medications are, themselves, addictive and you don’t want to create more problems for yourself. Still, sleep is extremely important and if other methods don’t work, medication is something you should discuss with your doctor.

Human dignity has value. When a loved one chooses detox, they should be comfortable and treated with respect. Struggling with addiction is not something punished. Recovery should be supported with empathy and acceptance. Gardens Detox stands out, changing the way the industry approaches detox. Call us today for information on our programs:  (844) 325-9168