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How to Fall Asleep When Sober: Sleep Hygiene & Sobriety

Sleep Hygiene & Sobriety

Falling asleep can be challenging, especially when you’re on the path to sobriety from substance abuse or alcohol addiction. If you experience sleep disruptions and can’t sleep without alcohol or other substances, transitioning to a sober lifestyle might make bedtime feel like a battleground.

But good sleep hygiene and practical tips can make this transition smoother. If you or a loved one is struggling with insomnia during sobriety, knowing strategies to improve your deep sleep without the assistance of drugs or alcohol can be life-changing.

9 Tips for Better Sleep Without Substances

Many people working on sobriety from a substance or alcohol use disorder experience insomnia or disrupted REM sleep, which can be frustrating and disheartening. Adjusting to a new sleep routine without relying on the effects of alcohol or drugs can take time and effort.

However, there are many effective strategies you can try to improve your sleep quality naturally. Here are some practical tips to help you fall asleep and stay asleep without using substances or drinking before bed.

1. Have a Calming Bedtime Routine

Creating a peaceful routine before going to sleep can tell your body that it’s time to start winding down. Start by identifying activities that help you relax. Reading a book is a great way to escape into another world and leave behind the day’s stresses.

Taking a warm bath can help your body relax by lowering your core temperature, signaling to your brain that it’s time to sleep. Gentle yoga or stretching exercises can also help ease tension in your muscles and promote relaxation.

2. Make Your Sleep Environment Comfortable

Your bedroom should be a sanctuary for quality sleep. Begin by ensuring your mattress and pillows suit your comfort preferences, whether you need firm support or a plush feel.

The room’s temperature plays a significant role in your ability to fall asleep and stay asleep. A cooler environment, around 65-68 degrees Fahrenheit, is generally ideal.1

Darkness is another critical factor. Blackout curtains can help block out light from street lamps or early morning sun.

3. Limit Screens Before Bed

The blue light produced by phones, electronics, and computers can interfere with your body’s natural sleep-wake cycle, known as the circadian rhythm. This light suppresses melatonin production, a hormone that regulates sleep.2

To counter this, try to avoid screens at least an hour before bedtime. If you need to use your devices, consider using blue light filters or night mode settings that reduce blue light emission. Engaging in screen-free activities, like reading a physical book, writing in a journal, or listening to soothing music, can help signal to your brain that it’s time to wind down.

4. Be Aware of Your Diet

What you eat and drink can significantly affect your sleep. Caffeine and nicotine are stimulants that can have a negative impact on your sleep, so it’s best to avoid them in the hours leading up to bedtime.

Large meals can cause discomfort and make it harder to fall asleep, so try to finish eating at least two to three hours before you plan to sleep. However, going to bed hungry can also disrupt your sleep.

If you need a snack, choose something light and sleep-promoting, like a banana, which contains magnesium and potassium that can help relax muscles, or a small serving of almonds, which contain melatonin.

Physical activity

5. Incorporate Physical Activity

Physical activity increases the amount of time you spend in the deep, restorative stages of sleep. Aim to include at least 30 minutes of moderate aerobic activity, such as walking or cycling, most days of the week. Strength training exercises are also beneficial.

However, avoid vigorous exercise close to bedtime, as it can have the opposite effect and make it harder to fall asleep. Morning or early afternoon workouts are typically best for promoting better sleep. Besides improving sleep, regular exercise has numerous other health benefits, including reducing anxiety and depression, which are often linked to sleep disturbances.3

6. Nap Strategically During the Day

While a short nap can be refreshing, long naps during the day can have a negative affect on your nighttime sleep. If you feel excessively tired during the day, it’s okay to take a short nap, but try to keep it under 30 minutes and avoid napping late in the afternoon. Instead, aim for a brief nap in the early afternoon if needed.4

7. Set a Consistent Sleep Schedule

Going to bed and waking up at the same time every day helps regulate your body’s circadian rhythm. This consistency reinforces your body’s natural sleep-wake cycle.2

Even on weekends, try to stick to your sleep schedule to avoid disrupting your routine. If you need to adjust your sleep schedule, do so gradually, changing your bedtime or wake time by no more than 15 minutes each day. Over time, consistency makes it easy to fall asleep, stay asleep, and wake up, improving the quality of your sleep.

8. Address Anxiety and Stress

Finding ways to manage stress and anxiety can improve your sleep quality. Writing down what you’re grateful for or planning the next day’s tasks can reduce pre-sleep anxiety.

Talking to a friend or therapist can also help you work through stressful situations and feelings. Engaging in a relaxing hobby, such as knitting, drawing, or listening to calming music, can distract your mind from worries and help you unwind before bed.

9. Seek Professional Help if Needed

If you continue to have trouble sleeping, consider seeking help from a healthcare professional. Addiction specialists can help manage withdrawal symptoms that may be affecting sleep quality as well as help you focus on your sobriety journey.

A sleep specialist can also conduct tests to determine if an underlying sleep disorder, such as sleep apnea, could be contributing to your insomnia. Don’t hesitate to seek professional guidance. Your health and recovery journey is worth it.

Find Sleep Support in Sobriety With Lumina Recovery

Improving sleep hygiene and developing healthy sleep habits are crucial steps in maintaining sobriety and overall well-being. It may take time and patience, but with the right strategies, you can achieve restful, natural sleep.

Lumina Recovery is here to help those with sleep problems struggling to stop drinking alcohol or experiencing alcohol withdrawal side effects through detox services and residential inpatient programs.

Reach out to our compassionate staff to take the next step towards a healthier, sober life.

Sources:

  1. https://www.sleepfoundation.org/bedroom-environment/best-temperature-for-sleep
  2. https://www.sleepfoundation.org/circadian-rhythm
  3. https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/wellness-and-prevention/exercising-for-better-sleep
  4. https://www.sleepfoundation.org/how-sleep-works/does-napping-impact-sleep-at-night

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