Sleep is one of the most foundational building blocks for a healthy life. And when you’re recovering from substance abuse, sleep disorders are very common. At the same time, lack of sleep can make addiction recovery more difficult. It’s a vicious cycle.
In order to get the rest you need so that you can continue to reclaim your life, this cycle must be broken. And if you’re in addiction recovery, prescription sleep medication may not be the ideal path. Fortunately, there are other ways to improve your sleep, like using white noise sleep sounds, reducing stress and making changes to your bedroom.
Understand How Sleep Benefits Recovery
Sleep is how our bodies and minds recover from the day and regenerate for the next. When it comes to addiction recovery, sleep is particularly important for your brain, which receives an ample amount of information throughout the day. During healthy sleep, your brain is able to process this information. Also, sleep is how your brain regulates hormones and enzymes in the body. In short, restorative sleep helps your brain to do the work you need it to. This is vital during recovery as you deal with stress and decision-making.
What Contributes to Stress?
Stress is a natural experience everyone encounters. And while there is definitely “good” stress, we all know there is plenty of “bad” stress. The process of working through recovery brings a fair amount of stress, which can affect sleep, but other factors compound stress and lead to sleep issues. For example, those who are self-employed carry a certain level of stress that continues well after work is done for the day. Worrying about missed deadlines, client requests and the like can make it harder to fall asleep. The same holds true if you’re working through the recent loss of a loved one, a difficult health diagnosis or dealing with significant financial setbacks. It makes sense for these worries to be top of mind, but when they start to consume us, our sleep and overall wellness can suffer greatly.
To help reduce the effects of these stressors, consider implementing certain coping mechanisms like breathing exercises, identifying triggers and stopping runaway thought trains.
Make Changes to Your Bedroom
One of the first things you should do to improve your sleep is to evaluate your mattress. If it’s more than five years old, look for signs of wear:
Does the mattress sag or have lumps?
Are the springs noisy?
Do you wake up with aches and pains?
Are your allergies worse?
If you determine you need a new mattress, be sure to factor in your sleep style when looking at different models. Additionally, take into consideration any medical issues that you have. Conditions such as psoriasis can often make it difficult to feel comfortable when lying down, so take things like stiffness and soreness into consideration when shopping around.
Adding blackout curtains to your bedroom and using white noise for sleeping can improve your sleep quality dramatically. Another idea is finding ways to relieve stress at home. Keeping an organized and decluttered space can alleviate tension, which in turn can make it easier to sleep.
Create a Bedtime Routine
Along with getting the right kind of mattress, it’s important to create a bedtime routine that you can stick to. By getting your body and brain into the habit of preparing for bed, you can lay the foundation for better sleep.
Keep the same bedtime and wake routine every day, or as much as you can. Start to prepare yourself for bed at least an hour before shutting out the lights. Put away any devices, and avoid watching TV. Drink some soothing tea like chamomile, valerian or lavender. Take a hot shower or bath, and try some gentle stretching exercises. As someone in recovery, it’s best to avoid sleep aids, even melatonin right now, so always opt for natural remedies.
It’s also wise to be mindful of what you eat as bedtime nears. You don’t want to eat anything spicy or greasy, and it’s best to avoid foods like chocolate, which has caffeine.
Getting adequate sleep is critical to everyone’s health, especially for those in addiction recovery. Take stock of the stressors in your life, make changes at home, and consider the benefits of a bedtime routine. By exploring these methods, you stand a better chance of a good night’s rest without the need for prescription medications.