Sleep’s Benefit in Addiction Treatment

A good night’s sleep is great for recovery and improves your mental health. It’s simple, right? Find out what’s keeping you from getting Z’s here.

Positive Psychology Interventions and Addiction Treatment
Positive Psychology Interventions and Addiction Treatment

Sleep’s Benefit in Addiction Treatment

A good night’s sleep is great for recovery and improves your mental health. It’s simple, right? Find out what’s keeping you from getting Z’s here.

The information presented on this page is a general overview and is offered here as a comprehensive resource. At Ampelis Recovery, our programs are customized and tailored to the individual’s needs. Specific details below that cover treatment protocols may not reflect the protocols used for our clients.

If you would like to learn more about Ampelis Recovery and our customized programs for professional men, please do not hesitate to reach out.


What is a Sleep Disorder?

Sleep disorders are any conditions that cause trouble sleeping. These disorders can include trouble falling asleep, staying asleep, or impaired deep sleep. Sleep disorders can occur as a primary illness or a side effect of other conditions.

Despite sleep disorders affecting upwards of 70 million Americans every year, research into these conditions is fairly new. In the mid-1950’s Dr. Nathaniel Kleitman began to foray into sleep studies. The research conducted by him and his team shows the benefits of sleep as a vital, active, and varied process. Without proper sleep, the mind and body suffer.


Signs of Sleep Disorder  

We all have trouble sleeping or get no sleep from time to time, but long-term sleep problems have several signs, including:

  • Trouble falling asleep 
  • Trouble staying asleep 
  • Daytime tiredness
  • Brain fog 
  • Headaches 
  • Anxiety and depression 
  • Poor breathing when asleep 
  • Falling asleep randomly 
  • Poor short-term memory 

Diagnosing sleep disorders relies on patients accurately reporting their symptoms, keeping a sleep journal, and visiting a sleep specialist. Of the 80 diagnosable sleep disorders, these are the most common.

  • Insomnia 
  • Sleep Deprivation 
  • Restless Leg Syndrome 
  • Sleep Apnea 
  • Narcolepsy 

Statistics on Sleep Disorder

  • 37% of patients with sleep disorders report uncontrollable daytime sleepiness.
  • 37-40% of adults 20 through 59 report drastically reduced sleep time. 
  • In a study of over 3000 people – only 15% reported sleeping 7.7 hours or more. 
  • 25 million people suffer from sleep apnea.
  • 90% of individuals with sleep apnea disorders never receive a diagnosis or treatment.
  • Patients with reduced sleep have a higher chance of being smokers, substance users, and suffering from mental illness.6

Learn More About Healing the Brain

The Connection Between Sleep Disorders and Addiction

Addiction causes several dangerous side effects, not the least of which is sleep disorders. Clients with dependency issues are 5-10x more likely to experience sleep problems.7Withdrawal can increase the intensity of sleep disorders, especially in marijuana and alcohol users. 

Why Addiction Can Mess Up Sleeping Pattern

Addiction disrupts our natural brain chemistry and sleep cycles. The exact cause and effect of substance use on sleep vary from drug to drug. For example, cocaine reduces the time someone spends in deep sleep. This drug reduces the quality of other sleep stages, namely the slow-wave stage. On the other hand, marijuana withdrawal causes heightened temporal lobe activity, which results in vivid and intense nightmares alongside frequent wakeups.

One of the significant ways substances affect sleep is by changing the cycle, also known as circadian rhythm, of a person. Someone may stay awake longer or go to sleep sooner than their body requires. Another common impact is reduced quality of sleep. Despite being able to achieve REM sleep, the individual may still feel tired upon waking.

The connection between poor sleep or no sleep and substance use is cyclical. For example, alcoholics may use alcohol to go to sleep but then become unable to achieve quality sleep due to their drinking.

It is also worth noting that some substances, namely cocaine, opioids, and alcohol, have long-term effects on sleep cycles. Some clients report having persistent sleep issues even after quitting their substance.

How Sleep Helps in Recovery

There are not any hard numbers on the benefits of sleep in addiction recovery. However, studies do show that poor sleeping habits increase the risk of relapse and psychotic episodes. 

The benefits of sleep allow our body a chance to heal, process thoughts, and store memories. Sleep also improves our cognitive functions, mood, and ability. Due to the nature of dependency, many patients have a history of poor sleep both due to their natural brain chemicals and environments. A good night’s rest will not eradicate cravings, but it does start a patient off on the right foot. 

A tricky part of sleep as it applies to recovery is sleeping medicines. A medical professional must distinguish between a patient in need of sleep medicine and a patient in search of drugs. As a patient’s tolerance builds, and if they mix the medicine with alcohol and substances, they increase the odds of developing further dependency. The euphoric effects of drugs and alcohol reinforce negative behavior which, when combined with sleep medicine, leads to a higher risk of health issues and overdose.  

The Mental and Physical Benefits of Sleep in Addiction Recovery

Reduce Stress

Cortisol is a stress hormone that causes anxiety, insomnia, and low energy. Sleep regulates cortisol levels and, in doing so, boosts productivity and positive thought. Another benefit of sleep is that it improves cognitive function, allowing a patient to think their way out of bad thoughts and situations. Over time, the result is an increasing ability to cope with stress.

Reduce Depression Symptoms

Approximately 15-20% of people with insomnia also suffer from depression.10 The result is a shorter REM cycle and trouble sleeping. These symptoms, in turn, elevate cortisol levels, resulting in worsening depression and poor slumber. Getting the proper amount and quality of sleep greatly diminishes these negative effects.

Improves Immune System

Sleep problems leave the body open to a high risk of infection and illness. The benefits of sleep aid in regulating several bodily functions related to the immune system, and without that regulation, the body has a hard time knowing how to fight infection.

Improves Responsiveness

Acetylcholine, one of the main neurochemicals to drive attention, response, and focus, is regulated in part by proper sleep. Dopamine, the happy chemical, also plays a role in alertness.

Decreases Pain Levels

Sleep deprivation aggravates neural pathways that regulate pain levels. Patients with poor sleep or no sleep over some time have a higher sensitivity to physical pain. Proper sleep assists with soothing those areas of the brain.

How to Get Quality Sleep 

Sleep Schedule

Set a sleep schedule and stick with it. A proper schedule helps your body set its circadian rhythm, meaning the body knows when to provide energy and wakefulness. Sticking with sleep schedule also helps train the body to know when it is time to go down for the night.

Relaxing Before Bed

You wouldn’t run a marathon and immediately try to go to sleep. High-intensity environments can trick your body into thinking it is time for activity. Such stimulations can include gaming, loud music, TV, etc. When you relax before bed, it allows your body the time it needs to transition to slumber. 

Regular Exercise

Regular exercise helps your body expend excess energy. It also increases the chance of obtaining a deep rest. In addition, sleep benefits muscle growth and cardiovascular activity. 

Eliminate Distractions

We have all spent far too long scrolling on our phones just to be tired at work the next day. Distractions will always be there. Being able to ignore them helps your chance of falling asleep smoothly. Set your phone to dim at certain times or set it on airplane mode to avoid late-night calls.