Many people rely on alcohol’s calming effect after a rough day. They may believe it reduces their anxiety over the day’s events and helps them get to sleep. If this pattern repeats daily, a person is more likely to become dependent upon alcohol to fall asleep. Alcohol dependence can lead to alcohol addiction.
Shaking this addiction and learning to sleep without alcohol can be difficult. The idea of attempting to sleep without alcohol can cause anxiety, which can lead to more drinking, perpetuating the cycle of alcohol abuse.
For the recovering alcoholic, sleeping properly can be one of the harder things to accomplish. Sleeplessness is one of the most common side effects associated with alcohol withdrawal in the early days of sobriety. Their body has become accustomed to the sedative effects of alcohol and turning the brain off is not easy.
Falling asleep and getting a full night’s rest are real problems that need to be managed effectively to maintain sobriety. Thankfully, sleeping without alcohol is an achievable goal with many therapeutic properties for the body and mind.
Good Sleeping Habits
Establishing good sleeping habits is essential, beginning with regular intervals of sleep and sleep patterns. Ideally, you should wake up and go to bed at the same time each day. Stimulants such as caffeine should be avoided, especially at night. Napping during the day is discouraged as well.
Personal Relaxation Methods
New relaxation methods should be explored to alleviate anxiety. This can include things like yoga, fishing, biking, meditating, massage, reading or anything that produces a happy and sedated effect. Calm activities like these allow the brain to produce more serotonin. Serotonin helps the brain with willpower management and delaying gratification – meaning it can help curb the appeal of alcohol.
Recovering alcoholics report that during the initial steps of sobriety, keeping busy was one of the most successful ways to stay sober and get enough sleep. Their objectives were to have enough to do so that their mental focus and physical activity would wear them out, allowing for a full and restful night of sleep.
Taking any other drugs that have a sedative effect should be avoided unless an attending medical care provider prescribes them. Doing so without medical supervision can trigger a new addiction to another substance.
For some people, sleep without alcohol seems impossible. Sleep disorders like insomnia can co-occur with alcohol abuse, and treating insomnia can improve a person’s sleep quality while in recovery. Some individuals may want to reach out to a medical provider to assess whether or not they have a preexisting condition and seek appropriate treatment.
If you or a loved one are struggling with alcohol abuse or are having a difficult time with alcohol recovery, The Recovery Village can help. Contact us today to learn more about our treatment programs and how we can get you on the road to lifelong recovery.
Miller, Mary Beth; Donahue, Marissa; Carey, Kate; Scott-Sheldon, Lori. “Insomnia treatment in the context of alcohol use disorder: A systematic review and meta-analysis.” Drug and Alcohol Dependence, December 1, 2017. Accessed May 14, 2020.
Arnedt, J. Todd; Conroy, Deirdre; Brower, Kirk. “Treatment Options For Sleep Disturbances During Alcohol Recovery.” Journal of Addictive Diseases, 2007. Accessed May 14, 2020.
Medical Disclaimer: The Recovery Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with a substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider.