Sleep and Addiction Recovery

Written by Chris Clancy

The clinical staff at JourneyPure At The River works with all clients to impart the three pillars of health: nutrition, exercise, and sleep. And when it comes to addiction recovery, perhaps none of these is so important as sleep.

It’s a safe bet that the majority of JourneyPure At The River clients enter their residential treatment deprived of sleep. Even for those who somehow got the required seven to eight hours of sleep while struggling with an addiction, the quality of their sleep has been lacking. After all, alcohol and drugs have been shown to interfere with the restorative actions the human body undertakes in slumber.

Addiction is Not Sleep’s Friend

The negative aspects of a lack of sleep have been shown to play a major role in the formation of drug and alcohol addictions. Numerous studies suggest that poor sleep habits contribute to feelings of stress, poor interpersonal relations, drug and unhealthy food cravings, and impaired judgment.

Another aspect of addiction’s corrosive effects on healthy sleep concern diet. Since many addicts do a poor job of maintaining a healthy diet, the brain does a poor job of releasing melatonin, the hormone that tells the body it’s time for bed.

Lack of sleep has also shown a tendency to contribute to depression, a chief contributor to the desire to self-medicate with alcohol or drugs.

In a 2008 Imperial College London study, British psychiatrist David Nutt concluded that “links between sleep and depression are strong,” adding that roughly three-quarters of depressed patients he studied were found to have insomnia symptoms and that these symptoms “have a major impact on quality of life.”

The Stages of Sleep

Sleep researchers are now able to pinpoint each of the four stages of a sleep cycle, and what occurs in the body during each. These stages are:

• Stage One: This stage, which goes for several minutes as the brain transitions from awake to sleep, allows brainwaves, heartbeat, and breathing to slow, resulting in deep relaxation.
• Stage Two: Still a light sleep, stage two moves into a deeper sleep, where muscles relax, body temperature drops, and eye movement stops.
• Stage Three and Four: These are the parts of sleep that are needed to feel refreshed in the morning. Heartbeat and breathing slow to their lowest levels during this stage. It’s often difficult to awaken during this stage.
• REM Sleep: Rapid eye movement, or REM sleep, happens approximately 90 minutes after falling asleep. Eyes move rapidly behind the eyelids, breathing grows faster, and muscles become paralyzed, temporarily (which is what prevents the sleeper from acting out his or her dreams).

A More Complete Sleep

It is not uncommon for people in early recovery from addiction to experience sleep issues. Much of this is due to the body’s needing time to acclimate to the new, more complete sleep patterns that effective recovery provides, but it also has to do with the transformative recovery work that occurs during waking hours—exercise, reflection, and therapy.

Fortunately, JourneyPure At The River provides hearty doses of the two most important ingredients of a good night’s sleep: a regular bedtime routine (including regular wake-up times) and a pleasant sleep environment. JourneyPure At The River also provides healthy meals and plenty of opportunities for exercise, which also promotes healthy, regular sleep. Healthy, regular sleep is also covered in the JourneyPure Coaching™ app, designed to help people achieve long-term success in recovery.

Treatment at JourneyPure at the River

If you or a loved one suffers from chronic substance abuse problem, please contact us today. We offer medically assisted detox services, individual and group counseling and experiential therapies. Our friendly and knowledgeable staff is ready for you to get healthy and stay healthy.


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