If you’ve ever experienced a sleepless night, the memory of the next morning is probably one that you’d prefer not to relive. These dreadful mornings and exhausting workdays are all too familiar for those struggling with insomnia, and according to the CDC, about 35.2% of the adult U.S. population suffers from the disorder. Regularly sleeping reduced hours can start to take a serious toll on you and lead to seek unhealthy ways to turn off your mind and body. Some people find aid in sleeping pills – in fact, about 4% of the population does so on a regular basis. Others turn to benzodiazepines like Xanax or alcohol like wine. Either way, the repeated use of addictive substances can develop into a substance use disorder (SUD) if you’re not careful.
What Is Insomnia?
Adults generally require seven to nine hours of sleep per night, but if you find yourself getting much less than that, you may have a sleep disorder such as insomnia. Insomnia is one of a few different sleep disorders that cause consistent problems in falling or staying asleep. Short-term insomnia lasts for less than three months and long-term insomnia lasts for over three months.
You could have insomnia if you regularly:
- Have trouble falling asleep
- Wake up several times throughout the night
- Feel tired after waking up in the morning
- Stay awake despite trying to sleep
- Wake up early but can’t fall back asleep
- Have difficulty concentrating during the day due to exhaustion
- Have trouble napping even if you’re tired
There are different reasons why a person might develop insomnia, including chronic stress, anxiety, depression or another mental health condition such as schizophrenia or bipolar disorder. These conditions can make it terribly difficult for the mind to calm down. Other reasons could include the use of certain medications, the presence of a physical or neurological condition, poor sleeping habits, an irregular sleep schedule and the inappropriate use of substances.
Effects on Your Body and Mind Due to Bad Sleep
Several physical and mental conditions are associated with insufficient sleep, such as type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, obesity and depression. When it comes to diabetes, poor sleep duration and quality could negatively affect the body’s ability to control blood sugar levels. Short sleep duration also leads to metabolic changes that may play a role in obesity. Manifestations of cardiovascular disease – hypertension, coronary heart disease, stroke, irregular heartbeat and heart failure – have all been found to be more common in those with disordered sleep. Your mind can also suffer, as insomnia can cause a person to become depressed, and depression itself can cause insomnia. Other underlying mental health conditions can also be exacerbated, as impaired thinking and emotional regulation are disrupted by changes in neurotransmitter levels and stress hormones are triggered by irregular sleep patterns.
Poor Sleep May Impede Recovery
Not only could you be at an increased risk of misusing substances due to your insomnia, but a SUD can actually make your sleep problems worse and the recovery process more challenging. The National Institute on Drug Abuse explains that substances can disrupt the regulatory systems in the brain that are involved in sleep, altering the time it takes to fall asleep and how well and long you sleep for. For example, cocaine and methamphetamine use increases dopamine levels in the brain. Dopamine is involved in alertness and the body’s sleep-wake cycle; thus, continued use can lead to severe sleep disturbances.
If you stop using a particular drug of choice, you may experience withdrawal symptoms that, by their very nature, make it feel impossible to get some rest. Even for substances that seem benign to some, such as smoking marijuana, difficulty sleeping is reported by more than 40% of persons who are attempting to quit. Therefore, if you are planning to stay off a substance, the risk of relapse is high. Another thing to consider is the central role of sleep in helping the brain consolidate new information and memories. Sleepless nights could make it harder for you to learn coping and self-regulation skills during addiction recovery. Because of the important link between sleep and SUDs, effective treatment may be contingent on alleviating any sleep issues.
If You Can’t Sleep
Depending on your particular circumstances, there may be different options for tackling this persistent problem. If your sleep patterns are severely impacting your functioning, the first thing you should do is see a doctor. It is important that they rule out any underlying medical or mental health conditions so that your insomnia can be treated effectively.
If this is not an option, you can try natural relaxation remedies, including herbs like valerian root and chamomile. They can be found in capsules, tinctures, and teas. Melatonin is an over-the-counter, natural sleep aid that you may find to be very effective as well. There is also peaceful music that you can find online that is said to help some fall asleep when they’re having trouble.
Getting regular, quality sleep is a critical part of maintaining your physical and mental well-being. Unfortunately, each year, millions of people suffer from sleep disorders like insomnia A person may have insomnia due to a medical condition, a mental illness, or drug/alcohol use. An addiction can make insomnia worse, particularly during the withdrawal period. If you or someone you love is fighting an addiction and experiencing sleep disruptions, call Authentic Recovery Center so we can help you. Located in Los Angles, California, our residential drug and alcohol treatment center is staffed with experienced clinicians that will help you figure out how to address not only your addiction but your sleep troubles as well. Call us today: (866) 786-1376.