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  • Insomnia is one of the most common symptoms of alcohol withdrawal.

    If you struggle with persistent alcohol consumption or heavy drinking, you likely already suffer from insomnia. Alcohol sleep deprivation occurs because regular alcohol use disrupts your natural sleep cycles. 

    As you experience withdrawal symptoms, your body readjusts its sleep cycle, which can worsen insomnia or other sleep disorders.

    Some people suffer from alcohol-related insomnia for years after they stop drinking. Poor sleep leads to an increased risk for relapse. Sleep disturbances can create other physical and mental health problems that make it hard to adjust to alcohol recovery. 

    Here are ten ways you can deal with insomnia during alcohol withdrawal and detox.

    1. Stick To A Sleep Schedule

    Go to bed at the same time every night and get up at the same time every morning. A sleep schedule helps your body stay in tune with its natural circadian rhythm, so you get tired at night and feel awake during the day.

    2. Create A Bedtime Routine

    A relaxing bedtime routine that’s the same each night signals to your body and mind that it’s time for sleep. Read a book, take a bath, drink a cup of tea—whatever calms you down.

    3. Turn Off The Screen

    Screens shouldn’t be part of your bedtime routine, especially once you’re actually in bed. The blue light emitted from a screen interferes with your circadian rhythm. 

    This interference is less clear to your body and mind that it’s time for sleep. It also reduces your brain’s production of melatonin, a hormone that promotes sleepiness.

    4. Use Your Bedroom For Sleep

    If you lay in bed and watch TV—even during the day—it can reduce your sleep quality. The same goes for working in bed, eating in bed, or most other things you do in bed. (The exception is sex, which releases hormones that may help you sleep.)

    When your bedroom is just for sleep, your body knows that’s what it’s supposed to be doing when you get under the covers.

    5. Don’t Go To Bed Hungry

    You may have heard that eating late in the evening is a bad idea. Some foods are converted to fat while you’re sleeping rather than burned off by movement. But going to bed hungry can keep you awake or cause you to wake in the middle of the night for a snack. 

    Eat something light and healthy before laying down to ensure you can make it until breakfast. The same goes for hydration—drink some water in the evening so your mouth isn’t dry all night, but not so much that you’ll wake up for a trip to the bathroom.

    6. Avoid Naps Or Keep Them Short

    While napping during the day reduces feelings of drowsiness, it can also keep you from falling asleep at night. 

    If you’re not able to fall asleep, you’ll be more tired the next day, leading to a pattern of napping and nighttime insomnia. Avoiding naps ensures you’re properly tired at bedtime.

    If you can’t make it through the day without a nap, don’t nap for long. Ten to 20 minutes is best to prevent grogginess. Nap earlier in the day, too—no later than 3:00 pm—so you have time to get tired again before bed.

    7. Exercise Regularly

    Regular exercise is essential to alcohol addiction recovery, and it’s great for your overall health. Exercise releases endorphins (hormones that make you feel happy) and reduces stress. A person who’s content sleeps better at night.

    Additionally, if your body moves during the day, it will need to rest at night. Sitting all day doesn’t wear you out physically, so a sedentary lifestyle can cause sleep problems.

    8. Practice Relaxation Techniques

    Using relaxation techniques like yoga and meditation is a great way to unwind at bedtime. People are often kept awake by racing thoughts about their day, problems they need to solve, or other worries. 

    Relaxing the body and mind calms the activity inside you so you can rest. Even simply breathing deeply and focusing on your breath can cut through the noise and put you to sleep.

    9. Get Behavioral Therapy

    People who struggle with chronic insomnia (beyond alcohol sleep deprivation) may need more than lifestyle changes to sleep better. Behavioral therapy is a great way to get to the root cause of insomnia. 

    Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is a popular, evidence-based treatment method for alcohol use disorder and many other mental health disorders

    With a therapist, you target negative thought patterns that can contribute to poor mental health. You learn to think more positively, which leads to healthier behavior and a more peaceful way of living.

    10. Ask Your Doctor About Insomnia Medications

    Insomnia medications may help you get through the alcohol withdrawal process. Medications that may help with alcohol-related insomnia include:

    • benzodiazepines, like diazepam (Valium)
    • non-benzodiazepines (“z-drugs”), such as zolpidem (Ambien)
    • over-the-counter sleep aids, like diphenhydramine (Benadryl)
    • natural supplements, such as melatonin or valerian root

    Some of these drugs have side effects, such as daytime drowsiness, which may not feel like much improvement from not sleeping well at night. Talk with your doctor before trying medication, especially if you’re going through detox.

    Alcohol Withdrawal & Detox Support

    Alcohol detox can be a life-threatening process, so don’t try to do it without support. While your family and friends may be in favor of your recovery, they might not be able to provide the care you need for overcoming alcohol dependence.

    Medically assisted detoxification (detox) is an inpatient program that offers around-the-clock monitoring during alcohol withdrawal. Trained healthcare professionals are available to keep you safe, stable, and as comfortable as possible. 

    With the proper support, you can focus on developing healthy sleep habits and prepare for an addiction treatment program. Good sleep hygiene is vital to the healing process and an improved quality of life.

    To learn about our treatment centers and multiple treatment options for dealing with the effects of alcohol abuse, please connect with our helpline today.

    Written by Ark Behavioral Health Editorial Team
    ©2023 Ark National Holdings, LLC. | All Rights Reserved.
    This page does not provide medical advice.
    Medically Reviewed by
    Manish Mishra, MBBS
    on June 24, 2021
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