A recent online article reported insomnia to be a “prevalent and persistent” problem for persons in early recovery from addiction. A restful night’s sleep is fundamental to both mental and physical wellbeing for anyone. For a person in recovery, it is vital part of maintaining sobriety.
Sleep and Insomnia
Insomnia is difficulty in sleeping–an inability to fall asleep, or to stay asleep; or an inability to sleep at all. Without adequate restful sleep, most people will experience difficulty in remembering things; can feel irritable, and oftentimes experience feeling “down in the dumps”.
According to WebMD, sleep deprivation takes its toll on a person’s mind, body and overall health. Based on research, a chronic lack of sleep has been linked to mental health, colds and flu, heart disease, diabetes and obesity. The article cites the fact that adequate sleep helps protect a person from illness.
Dr. Lisa Shives, MD and founder of Chicago-based Northshore Sleep Medicine says that sleep is “a quiescent period” (quiet: inactive; at rest) when the body cells “are doing a lot of repairing.” She also cites sleep as a time when hormones act differently, as does the immune system. Moreover, she points out that a person cannot fight-off illness if their “immune system is out of whack”.
A Journal of Addiction Medicine report cites evidence which suggests the incidence of insomnia for persons in early recovery may be up to five times greater than that of the general population; as well as the fact the insomnia may persist for months or years.
Because sleep is vital to mental health and wellbeing, and even moreso to the person who is experiencing addiction-related insomnia, it becomes extremely important to know some ways to safely handle insomnia naturally– and without the risk of using insomnia drugs.
Five Natural Ways
Below are some tried-and-true natural ways to help with addiction-related insomnia. Each person is an individual, and can determine which ways work best, and best suits individual lifestyles and preferences.
Take a Walk
A walk out-and-about in the environment has an abundance of benefits; but is particularly helpful in getting a good night’s sleep. While walking, take a look at the environment, and notice the things in it. You are likely to experience “exhaustion”, and should continue to walk until it lifts. Continue to walk until you feel pleasantly relaxed. That is the time to go home an go to bed for the night.
Take a Hot Bath
A nice hot bath shortly before retiring to bed is relaxing and therapeutic. It can ease muscle tension and discomfort; and start you feeling sleepy. Some find that adding a naturally relaxing essential oil such as Lavender to the bath water enhances the bath benefits.
Drink a Cup of Tea
A cup of hot herbal tea has long been known as a way to unwind and relax. Chamomile or Catnip tea are both regarded as herbal teas which calm the body and the mind.
Eat a Bedtime Snack
A bedtime snack of foods which contain tryptophan can help you sleep. Tryptophan is an amino acid the body uses to make serotonin—a substance that helps you sleep. Suggested foods are some turkey, a piece of chicken or a banana—all of which contain Tryptophan.
Set your Body Clock
The presence of natural light alerts the body to the fact it is time to wake-up and start the day. Go for a morning walk, every morning, even if it is an overcast day. By setting your “body clock” in harmony with natural cycles of the day and night, it will help you to sleep better.
Try not to nap during the day, even if you are tired. You may find that an afternoon nap is disrupting your “body clock”.
Keeping a schedule, eating healthy and nutritious food, keeping the body exercised, and staying away from too much caffeine and sugar can all contribute to a better level of health and better sleep, especially when in addiction recovery.