How Do Different Addictions Affect Sleep? 5 Questions for Your Doctor Update 07/2024

Taking the first step toward healing by seeking help is an admirable act. Is it possible to sleep through the process of writing a book? Probably not, but you know that already because this is the first essay of its kind that you’ve come across.
In spite of this, there is hope for those who are addicted and their families. Give yourself a pat on the back for being here and not self-medicating. Addiction recovery is one of the most difficult things a person can attempt, and yet here you are! It’s working.
When it comes to sleep and drug abuse rehabilitation, you aren’t on your own. That’s why we completed the research to help you understand what to expect. Even though the connection between sleep and addiction is complex, it is possible that some problems could influence recovery or even predict relapse behavior. Take a look at our information on how resting can help you recover from challenging situations.

How Are Sleep and Addiction Related?

People with substance abuse issues are up to 10 times more likely to suffer from a sleep disturbance as well, according to the latest research. Sleep quality and addiction are strongly linked, but how does it work?

Addiction and sleep deprivation are inextricably linked. The converse is also true: Those who are addicted to drugs are more likely to have poor sleep quality than are those who do not suffer from substance use disorders. It’s difficult, but not impossible, to escape this loop.

Sleep Deprivation Increases Vulnerability to Addiction

People who suffer from insomnia or other sleep disorders are more likely to become addicted to drugs or alcohol, according to studies. One of the first things people try when they can’t sleep is to take a drug or supplement. Many people with insomnia use medicines to help them sleep, whether it’s Ambien, booze, or marijuana. They may also require additional drugs to keep them awake during the day. Addiction can quickly develop to both of these.
Increased impulsivity, sloppy judgment, and irritability are all symptoms of sleep deprivation. As a result, it’s not surprising that sleep deprivation is linked to an increased risk of substance dependence, including both illicit and legal alcoholic beverages.

Dopamine: Friend or Foe?

Research on the impact of drugs and alcohol on sleep quality is well-established. Dopamine, a neurotransmitter, is an important biological element here. As a “happy chemical,” dopamine is the one that is released in your brains when you exercise, listen to excellent music, or take certain medications. Dopamine is one of the primary drivers behind drug use since it promotes feelings of well-being and drive.
As it turns out, dopamine is also responsible for helping people feel more awake and regulating their sleep. Some dopamine-increasing drugs are even used to treat diseases like narcolepsy because of how well they work. A person’s sleep-wake cycle is likely to be disrupted if they regularly use potent dopamine-increasing drugs (like cocaine or meth). Because of this, the circadian cycle is thrown off, causing a lot of restless nights. As a result, the more sleep deprivation you have, the more difficult it is to kick the habit.

How Do Different Addictions Affect Sleep?

There is no one-size-fits-all approach to addiction treatment, and while all addictions disrupt sleep, some might trigger hyperarousal, while others can leave you feeling weary or depressed. We understand that whatever you’re going through isn’t pleasant. The more you know about your symptoms, the easier it will be to get some rest, and the more comfortable you’ll feel knowing you’re not alone in your struggles.


Whether you’re a heavy drinker or in recovery, alcohol can put you to sleep. Many patients with alcoholism began using the drug as a sleep aid, which could explain why this is the case. Drinking alcohol can make you drowsy at first, but these effects are short-lived and can lead to early awakening and shorter REM periods.
However, as tolerance builds and dependence on alcohol increases, it will become more difficult to fall asleep and more likely that you will wake up earlier in the morning. Relapse is far more likely when sleep disturbances continue throughout addiction detox (especially with alcohol), according to a report from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. Alcohol will not aid you in falling asleep if you are afraid of relapsing.
Alcoholism relapses cause patients’ sleep to improve for a short period of time (approximately twenty-four hours) before rapidly deteriorating again, potentially decreasing their ability to ever sleep soundly again. Consequently, you might wonder, Is a single night of sleep worth a lifetime of insomnia?


Asleep disturbance can lead to sedative addiction in the same way that alcohol addiction leads to alcoholism. In a hard-to-break cycle, withdrawals from an addictive substance can exacerbate the symptoms of insomnia or other sleep disorders. Withdrawal symptoms, including sleeplessness, racing thoughts, anxiety, and, in rare circumstances, seizures, can occur as the sedative’s concentration in the blood drops.
While tiny doses of Cannabis or CBD may help some people sleep, the results may be different for those who are trying to quit. Withdrawal can cause sleep issues that might endure for weeks, even in the early days. SAMHSA has found that sleep issues can predict a relapse within two days of attempting abstinence for persons who are in treatment.

If you’re trying to wean yourself off sedatives, you’ve probably already learned this lesson the hard way. Just keep going, we’ll get into some natural ways to help you get some rest, which could speed up your recuperation a little bit later on.


For stimulant recovery, the results are a mixed bag for patients. According to SAMHSA, patients report a wide range of outcomes, with some reporting worse sleep quality but believing it to be better and others reporting worse sleep quality. Recovering addicts may be able to sleep longer, but UCLA researchers found that REM and long-wave sleep cycles are considerably disrupted, reducing the soothing effects of sleep.

[table responsive=”no” alternate=”yes” fixed=”no”]
Addiction Effects in Addiction Effects in Abstinence/Recovery
  • Insomnia,
  • reduced REM periods,
  • frequent waking
  • Risk for Sleep Apnea,
  • insomnia,
  • reduced REM periods
  • Sleepiness,
  • exhaustion,
  • depression
  • Insomnia,
  • anxiety,
  • racing thoughts
  • Insomnia,
  • anxiety,
  • reduced REM periods
  • Rebound in REM periods,
  • decrease in long wave periods
  • Insufficient rest duration,
  • reduced REM periods,
  • irregular sleep patterns
  • Insomnia,
  • anxiety
  • Lack of REM periods,
  • reduced sleep duration
  • Insomnia,
  • lack of REM periods


A first injury that caused excruciating agony is often the catalyst for opiate addiction. Stress levels rise and sleep becomes less restful when people get dependent on painkillers to help them recover from an injury. Insufficient sleep, poor sleep quality, and erratic sleep cycles are common among opioid users according to the National Institutes of Health.
The sleep you get may not help as much as you’d want if you’re recovering from opiate addiction.
According to the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine, this is due to the fact that opioid users are also more likely to suffer from sleep deprivation than the general population. When you’re in recovery, you may experience increased levels of stress and anxiety, which can be mistaken for cravings when you’re truly struggling to deal with your feelings.
Patients may be at greater risk of developing RLS as a result, according to an Indian university study published in the same journal. It’s possible that talking therapy will help you overcome cravings if you’re experiencing any of these signs.
Opioid addiction medications might create sleepwalking problems, so be aware of this possibility.


According to Ocean Breeze Recovery Center, psychedelics and hallucinogens have an overall negative impact on sleep, even if they provide a dream-like experience for their users. Poor sleep quality, insomnia, and a lack of rapid eye movement (REM) sleep are all common side effects.
Because they influence the body’s ability to regulate sleep cycles, medicines that alter serotonin levels are particularly damaging to rest, according to a center. Those who are addicted to the substance may only be able to wake up when they are high.
It is common for doctors to urge treatment at a treatment center because these substances are so addictive. The process of withdrawals often entails suicidal sentiments, despair, and anxiety. Hope does exist, however. A lot of the time, the body can re-learn to produce good emotions naturally after a period of abstinence, so you just have to stay with it.

Common Sleep Disorders During Recovery

Insomnia is a widespread sleep issue, but it is by no means the only one of the most difficult to overcome. A lack of sleep due to drug misuse can lead to an inability to fall asleep, frequent awakening, and an early start to the day. This can impair your ability to think properly, concentrate, stay alert, or fight off infections after a while. This is why it’s so critical to look after your health and well-being while you’re recovering.


One of the most prevalent sleep disorders among persons with substance abuse disorders is insomnia. Hyperalertness, anxiety, and despair are all signs you’ll know, as is the fact that you’re awake when you’d rather be asleep. Insomnia can also manifest as difficulty falling asleep, waking up too early, or waking up repeatedly.
Doctors typically offer a diagnosis if these symptoms are present at least three evenings a week for more than a few months. If you experience any of these signs, you should be aware that a relapse is possible. Don’t let your hard work go to waste! Recovery is something to be celebrated, and you owe it to yourself to get help if you need it.
It’s critical to keep in mind that these signs can only appear in a setting where relaxation is possible. To help you get to sleep at night if you’ve made a conscious decision to stay up late playing video games or watching movies, we suggest shutting off the lights and music. Talk to your doctor if you’re still unable to sleep.
Some doctors may give sleeping drugs or depressants if they are unaware of your circumstances, which could lead to addiction.

Sleep Apnea

Sleep apnea can be caused by an obstruction in the airways while sleeping, or by a malfunction in the brain that prevents the body from being reminded to breathe while it is asleep.
Sleep apnea, which can lead to serious harm or even death, is an elevated risk for those who are suffering withdrawal symptoms from alcohol or opiates. As a result, snoring or difficulty breathing can be caused by depressants relaxing the muscles in the upper air path. According to the New York Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services, this impact may lead patients to wake often, disturbing REM cycles and lowering the quality of sleep.
Ask your doctor whether you have sleep apnea if you wake up snoring or gasping or just don’t feel relaxed after sleeping all night. I think they can track down the cause of this issue.

Restless Leg Syndrome

If you suffer from Restless Leg Syndrome, you may find relief by tapping or shaking your limbs a little bit. Those who are going through opiate or depressive withdrawal may be more likely to develop RLS, especially if they are also experiencing hyperactivity or anxiety.
There are a plethora of elements that can lead to the onset of a substance use disorder in most people who have been diagnosed with it. RLS/WED sufferers who have medical illnesses that cause severe discomfort, stress, and difficulties in functioning may be at an elevated risk for substance usage,” according to a new study. American Addiction Centers
It’s possible that stimulant use will exacerbate the problem, and withdrawal symptoms like increased restlessness could also contribute to sleep issues.

Side Effects from Methadone (Often Used to Help People Detox from Opioids)

Although the adverse effects of Methadone appear to be manageable compared to substance misuse withdrawals, this does not indicate that the drug should be used lightly. According to a study in Iran, methadone is more successful at reducing the effects of opioid withdrawals, but it doesn’t mean it completely eliminates them.
According to one study, those who are taking Methadone at the maximum or above-maximum dosage are more likely to suffer from sleep issues, therefore in many circumstances, less is more. If this is the path your doctor has chosen for you, be aware that sleepwalking and/or vomiting have been linked in certain cases.

Insomnia and the Likelihood of Relapse

It bears repeating for the sake of clarity. Addiction relapses are frequently linked to sleep deprivation, particularly in the case of substance misuse. Because of the widespread usage of controlled medications to assist individuals in sleep, a study conducted in Cleveland, Ohio, found that this is the case.
During recuperation, when patients are unable to find other ways to rest, resisting the temptation to use medicines that aid in rest can be even more challenging.
Not that we want to terrify you, but we could be. In order to get through recuperation, you’re going to need some assistance. However, the good news is that this is something you’ll be able to get through with some help. If you’ve previously been to rehab or recovery, it may take a few tries to get it to stay. Setbacks aren’t failures; they’re just a necessary part of the process.
On the subject of relapse, it’s important to keep in mind that the sedative effects of most medicines gradually fade with time. The second half of your sleep cycle can be ruined if you drink up to six hours before going to bed, according to the Psychiatric Times. You may not be able to sleep at all if you drink right before going to bed.
Addicts are more likely to suffer from sleeplessness during periods of abstinence or treatment, according to the study. Even among strong drinkers, these symptoms are lessened when they relapse, but the cycle soon ends when the alcohol no longer helps you sleep.
Patients may struggle to receive proper therapy for sleep disorders, which may explain why there is a link between sleep abnormalities and relapse. In these situations, what starts out as a search for therapy can easily degenerate into a search for drugs. According to the Wayne State Study, the euphoric effects of controlled substances can be directly linked to the quality of one’s sleep if they are combined with the effects of the drug.
Drug misuse may be encouraged or patients in need of therapy may be harmed if doctors do not correctly recognize the behavior they are seeing in their patients. We’re sorry your physicians and others have let you down if this is happening to you, but you still have time to get treatment. It’s important to find someone that you can be entirely open with. As a result, you’ll be more prepared to avoid temptations that could lead to relapse.

Questions for Your Doctor

Are sleeping pills addictive?

Because you want to avoid a recurrence, this is a fantastic question for your doctor to ask. Hopefully, this information will assist them to direct you on the correct route. You may be able to find a sleeping medication that is not a controlled substance. In the event that this is not the case, your doctor should be able to provide you with additional options for getting some shut-eye.

Many people think of it as a herbal supplement or vitamin, however, Melatonin is actually a medicine. It’s not for everyone, but in the majority of situations, it shouldn’t be addictive or cause significant difficulties.
Sleeping drugs that are depressants or opioids, on the other hand, have a high potential for addiction. However, while your doctor should be able to screen you for drugs that could cause you problems, we’ve done some research to help you find the best option.
Remember that most doctors only prescribe sleeping drugs for short-term use, and look for more natural or long-term solutions to assist you in sleeping. This is vital to keep in mind. According to the Addiction Center, doctors will likely only administer the heavy-duty anti-insomnia medications on an as-needed basis.
It’s considered substance misuse if these pills are utilized to treat anxiety or are used in a manner different from that prescribed by a doctor. Addiction or reliance may develop as a result of taking these drugs for an extended period of time and needing more to achieve the same high. Honesty with your doctor is the best policy if you’re worried about this conduct.

Can I use sleeping pills during detox?

For insomnia or other sleep issues, doctors might give sleeping drugs during recovery or detox, but they are more likely to explore alternate treatments. Ask your doctor if you are at risk for drug abuse if you are prescribed an addictive sedative. Addiction to higher dosage sleep aids is common, with treatment facilities dedicated to the problem.
The less powerful or natural drugs like melatonin or other over-the-counter medications may not be beneficial or solve the underlying problems for everyone.

Is exercise safe for me?

Exercise can help you sleep better and may even turn out to be one of your most useful recovery aids. However, before making any treatment decisions on your own, you should consult with your doctor. If you’ve recently quit drinking, exercising could be risky for people who are experiencing alcohol withdrawals.
In addition to natural exhaustion, exercise has a positive impact on the body’s chemistry, allowing it to generate feel-good hormones and improve sleep quality.
As a means of promoting mental clarity, reducing stress and despair, and coping with mood swings, suggests a regular physical activity for those in sobriety. While it may seem like a good idea to do some exercise, you should first consult your doctor to make sure you are healthy enough to try this treatment and to learn which exercises would be most successful for you.
Swimming or biking, for example, maybe an option for those who are struggling with opiate addiction because of an underlying pain problem.

What diet do you suggest to promote sleep?

Doctors advocate a few foods for insomnia and other sleep disorders, including complex carbs, almonds, cottage cheese, warm milk, chamomile tea, and various types of fruits, despite a lack of data on the subject. According to research, the proper meals, ingested at the right times, can help you get a better night’s sleep.
If you’re struggling with depression or other mental health issues, a specific diet may be able to help. To maximize your chances of recovery, you should seek advice from your doctor, who is likely to be delighted that you are interested in making the most of your time on Earth.

Could my medications be keeping me awake?

The quantity of REM periods you experience is a significant signal that could predict relapse, and some sedatives interfere with this. Some doctors prescribe antidepressants or anti-anxiety drugs to alleviate some of the symptoms of withdrawals during the course of rehabilitation. It’s likely that the medication you’re taking is interfering with your sleep, and hence your recovery if you started having trouble sleeping soon after starting it.
On the Harvard Medical School website, you’ll find a list of commonly prescribed drugs and their effects on sleep.

Natural Sleep Tips

Talk to Your Sponsor

Keep in mind that you’re not on your own in a recovery program where you have a personal sponsor. During the detoxification process, a sponsor may be able to share with you specific techniques that were beneficial to them. Even if one way doesn’t work for both of you, it’s never a terrible idea to get some advice from someone who is good at keeping their opinions to themselves.
Seek out someone who will listen to your concerns if you don’t have a sponsor. Having a community of people to lean on and confide in can make all the difference. Despite the fact that it’s frightening, if you’re here, it means you’re on the correct course. Keep up the good work!


After the first few days of detox, many people find that regular exercise is an excellent way to help them sleep better at night. Exercising raises your body’s endorphin (happy hormone) levels, which can aid in the treatment of sadness and anxiety. In addition, exercise lengthens slow-wave times of rest, allowing your body to recuperate for longer periods of time.

Exercise has been shown to help recovering addicts build new social ties and control cravings, according to research from Harvard Medical School.
Now you have a reason to strike up a conversation with strangers at the gym. Having a personal trainer to keep you on track can also be a tremendous benefit.
However, it’s possible that exercising isn’t safe at every stage of recovery. Your doctor can help you determine the type and amount of exercise that is right for you. Weightlifting may be beneficial for some, but cardio activity may be healthier for others. To the best of his or her ability, your doctor should be able to assist you in adhering to your prescribed treatment plan.

Sleep Routine/Hygiene

Combating any type of sleep issue necessitates designating a special area of the home as a place of rest. You may not know when it’s time to sleep if you associate your bed with work, anxiety, restlessness, or other activities.
Addiction withdrawals may cause the body to miss out on other sleep cues, such as drug use, which can lead to insomnia. Changing your daily routine can be easier if you can train your body to respond to other signals, such as brushing your teeth, meditating, or reading. According to the National Institutes of Health, the bed should only be used for sleeping and cuddling with your partner.
Reading an excellent book about sleep can help you fall asleep if you don’t know where to begin.

Light/Noise Therapies

Light therapy may assist your brain know when it’s time to wake up and when it’s time to sleep because some substances cause issues with internal timing. Some people find that using box lights throughout the day helps them wake up and fall asleep at the right times.
Using a lightbox at your workplace can also be a great way to meet new people and broaden your network of friends. In some circumstances, you may be able to put your mind at ease by listening to certain noises. If you’re one of those people who can’t sleep because your cat won’t stop meowing, white noise may be the answer.

Cognitive Behavior Therapy

Behavioral cognitive therapy, more commonly known as CBT, is one of the most frequently recommended treatments for persons undergoing treatment for addiction. Get to the fundamental cause of an issue and implement behavioral adjustments to fix it using this type of talk therapy.
Addiction Center says that reliving traumatic experiences in therapy can help to diminish the associated negative emotions, allowing those who are addicted to developing new, more productive methods of processing their emotions. Some of the emotional elements that can keep us awake can be combated when this approach is used to sleep. In other words, you don’t have to stay up all night revisiting painful or embarrassing memories because you’ve already dealt with them and learned how to deal with them.
An addicted individual is better able to overcome their addiction if they understand the reasons for their behavior and how that behavior is linked to their use of drugs or alcohol. – Addictions Center


Counseling, including Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), can help recovering addicts process their feelings in a more healthy manner. Thought patterns and coping mechanisms for addictive inclinations could be improved as well as stress-management skills learned through this method. In many circumstances, shame makes it difficult to break the addiction cycle. There will be less of a need to dull or avoid pain if you can discover forgiveness and actual healing for yourself.
Let us preempt your thoughts by saying that you are deserving of healing and that it is achievable. Even if we don’t know you personally, who are we to say you can’t find peace with your history if serial killers on death row do?
Motivational interviewing and consistency management has been found to be particularly successful in talk therapy, according to the American Psychological Association. People in recovery who are given encouragement and support are more likely to stay sober and avoid relapsing.


One of the most important things to remember is that you are not alone in your battle with addiction and there are numerous options available to assist you. Keep in mind that requesting assistance is a noble endeavor. However, we believe that doctors and treatment centers are the finest places to go for long-term care and treatment.
Even though getting enough sleep doesn’t seem like an easy task, there is hope at the end of the tunnel. After a difficult period of detoxification, most people who have successfully recovered from addiction find that their sleep improves with time. Recovering from an illness takes time and effort, and the better your sleeping and eating habits, the higher your chances of success are. We’d like to congratulate you on your hard work and wish you the best of luck.

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