Sleep is vital to living a healthy lifestyle and supporting proper bodily functioning. We need the restful energy during our waking days and our bodies need the nightly downtime to heal and repair itself. Sleep isn’t only important for feeling energized and alert, but our organs need that energy as well. Sleep is proven to decrease inflammation and boost our immune system. This is how the body protects us from illness and diseases.
Addiction, no matter the substance, has an affect on our sleep pattern and circadian rhythm. People might take drugs that keep them awake, while others take substances to put them to sleep. Even if someone isn’t currently under the influence of a substance, it can still have a lingering effect on the body which would impact sleep.
Sleep disorders can lead to substance abuse, but substance abuse can also cause sleep disorders. Serotonin and norepinephrine are neurotransmitters that regulate sleeping states. We want our brains to be balanced with the appropriate chemicals. Some people turn to alcohol as a sleep aid, which might work in the beginning, but will interfere with the quality of sleep and REM stages. Cocaine, as a stimulant, affects the levels of dopamine in the brain in a way that keeps someone awake. All sorts of drugs, even over-the-counter drugs, interrupt the quality sleep we should be having.
There are usually underlying issues that influence either sleep disorders or substance abuse. Many people who have anxiety, depression, or high stress, turn to alcohol to help them sleep. When laying their heads down at night, they could experience a racing mind that prevents them from drifting into slumber. This can be frustrating and far from relaxing. Desperate to escape thoughts and feelings in order to relax, people reach for a glass and take however many sips they need. Numbing out or pushing emotions aside doesn’t help us heal or overcome them. It’s also unhealthy for the body. So while we’re soothing our minds, our bodies are still absorbing the effects of the substance. So we’re also adding damage to our situation. And like mentioned previously, using alcohol to put us to bed doesn’t give us the quality sleep we should be having. So we’re tired and not functioning to our optimum potential the next day.
Recovering from substance abuse also affects our sleep. Our bodies become dependant on substances and we might struggle even more without it after the body has gotten used to it. There are different ways that help rewire ourselves naturally to achieve a healthier sleeping pattern. Crownview Co-Occurring Institute has a strong team of well trained professionals who work together to balance the mind, body, and spirit. If you or a loved one struggles with addiction and/or sleep disorders, please contact us to get in touch with a medical professional who can determine an individualized treatment plan.