In Personal Resources, Sober Living
woman in bed

Everyone has those nights where they toss and turn and can’t seem to just fall asleep.

We have all had those mornings where we have to drag ourselves out of bed after hitting the snooze button more than once. Not only can lack of sleep make us grumpy and irritable, but it also has many health necessities and benefits.

Why Sleep Is Important in Recovery in Particular

Sleep is more than just about making us no longer tired. According to Melissa Ree, a health professional at the sleep clinic Sleep Matters, “Physical growth and repair, immune function, hormone regulation, mood, memory and problem solving are all greatly impacted by sleep. Recent research has discovered that the brain goes into a ‘cleaning mode’ when we are asleep and that this keeps the brain working in good shape.” These are important for everyone, but for a recovering addict, sleep may have even more implications.


Many people in addiction recovery struggle with falling asleep, insomnia, disturbed sleep cycles, frequently waking up in the middle of the night, and feeling tired during the day. While people who have never struggled with a substance abuse issue may also experience these problems, for recovering addicts, getting a good night’s rest is even more important.


There are many reasons why sleep is important in addiction recovery in particular. When someone is going through a drug detox, their body is working to flush the toxins out of its system and needs sleep to repair the damage that was left behind. Many recovering addicts may also be irritable as they combat drug cravings, but getting good sleep could help improve their mood. These are all significant factors, but perhaps the most important reason why sleep is important in recovery is that it can help prevent relapse. Research suggests that sleep disturbances in recovery are correlated with relapse rates even after controlling for other factors including depression; in particular, those who are in treatment for alcohol abuse and struggling with insomnia seem to have the biggest rate of relapse.1

How to Get More Sleep In Recovery

From counting sheep to having a warm glass of milk before bed, we have all heard the simple remedies for getting better sleep, but for someone in a residential addiction treatment program, this may not be enough. Unfortunately, for many people sleep issues in addiction recovery are common, especially in early recovery, and it takes more than just jumping farm animals to help.

When sleep evades someone in addiction recovery, more serious steps beyond a good bedtime routine may be necessary. Medication is often not the best option for someone in recovery, so a good alternative may be cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). Melissa Ree notes that “Cognitive Behaviour Therapy for Insomnia (CBT-I) is the recommended first line of treatment for Insomnia Disorder, which is the most common sleep disorder… CBT-I is more effective than sleeping pills in the long term and can assist people to reduce their reliance on sleeping medication.”

The person in recovery should also record their sleep problems so that they can accurately report them to their doctor. If the problems are serious enough, it could be the result of a sleep disorder that needs specific medical attention that the doctor should be able to help with.

Sleep issues are not just a problem for people in recovery. Many addicts will use drugs or alcohol to help them fall asleep, but the result is worse sleep problems in the long run. If you are struggling with drugs and alcohol, get help immediately. These substances are not the answer to your poor sleep. Call us today at 570-536-9621 to learn more about our various programs and to get started.



  1. NCBI – Sleep Disorders in Substance Abusers- How Common Are They?



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