Sleeping Problems After Quitting Alcohol – What Causes Them and How to Deal With Them?
Insomnia is a fairly common problem in recovering alcoholics. Heavy drinkers are generally used to drinking themselves to sleep virtually every night. So, when they quit cold turkey, they find it hard to fall asleep without a glass or two of their favorite drink. In this piece, we take a look at why you tend to develop sleeping problems after quitting alcohol and how you can deal with it.
What Causes Sleep Problems in Recovering Alcoholics?
One of the major problems with alcohol addiction is that it disrupts the chemical balance in your brain. Your brain readjusts itself to the daily intake of alcohol by producing lower levels of GABA, melatonin, and other such chemicals that have a calming effect on your body and help you sleep well at night.
Once you start drinking heavily, alcohol basically takes over the job of these chemicals, which is to help you sleep at night. When you quit drinking, you naturally find it hard to sleep because your body is simply not producing enough of the aforementioned chemicals. This is why insomnia is so common in recovering alcoholics.
Home Remedies for Sleeping Problems
1Develop a Routine
Go to bed at the same time every night and wake up at the same time every morning. Initially, you might find it very difficult, but your body will get used to it soon and readjust the circadian rhythm. If you do not feel sleepy, do not loll around in bed. Get up, read a book (Taylor Caldwell’s Dear and Glorious Physician is amazing), meditate, or listen to some mellow music until you feel sleepy and then go back to bed. Once you start doing it regularly, your brain will associate the bed with sleep and eventually you will find it easier to fall asleep as soon as you go to bed.
2Avoid TV and Internet
Do not watch TV or spend time online right before you go to bed. Depending on what you watch or read, you might end up feeling angry, excited, sad, or depressed, at which point you might find it hard to fall asleep. So, switch off the TV, shut down your computer, and try to relax by listening to some soothing music.
3Watch Your Eating Habits
Do not eat a large meal right before you go to bed. Eat something light and healthy instead. Do not drink lots of water, as you might have to get up several times at night to go to the bathroom. Avoid drinking coffee or any caffeinated drink after 2 pm. It takes at least eight hours to flush out the caffeine in your system. So, any caffeinated drink that you consume after 2 pm could disrupt your regular sleep schedule considerably.
45 minutes of moderate to intense physical activity during the day can help you sleep better at night. It will also help you stay energized throughout the day. Exercise is an important habit you need to develop if you want to regain your strength after quitting alcohol.
Behavioral therapy can help you deal with the stress and anxiety of day-to-day life in a healthy, positive manner. Excessive stress and anxiety can make you feel restless, cause you sleepless nights, and might eventually lead to a relapse. So, you need to learn how to respond to the stress and strain of everyday life in a healthy manner.
Apart from therapy, relaxation techniques like yoga, meditation, and tai chi can help you stay calm even when things are not going your way. They can improve your concentration, restore your inner balance, and help you develop healthy sleeping habits.
Drink a cup of herbal tea in the evening or right before bed time. Herbs like lavender, chamomile, passion flower, and holy basil are known to calm your nerves and help you sleep better.
7Epsom Salt Baths
Epsom salt baths are an excellent way to relax before you go to bed.
You can take magnesium, essential amino acids, and multivitamin supplements to repair your body and recover from alcohol withdrawal insomnia. Magnesium Citrate, Vitamin B6, Glutamine, 5 HTP, L-Theanine, and Melatonin are some of the compounds that are known to induce sleep naturally.
Herbs like kava, ashwagandha, and milk thistle are known to promote good sleep. You can take herbal supplements that contain these substances to treat and cure your sleeping problems naturally.
One Night at a Time
The road to recovery is long and filled with hurdles. So, if you think too much about your long-term goals – recovering completely from addiction, staying sober for the rest of your life, maintaining a clean and healthy lifestyle, and so on – you will certainly find it difficult to sleep at night.
The trick is to take it one night at a time. Do not worry if you will be able to sleep tomorrow or the day after. Just focus on getting a good night’s sleep tonight. Repeat the same exact process tomorrow, the day after, and the next day, and so on. It’s the most effective way to deal with sleeping problems, or any other withdrawal symptom for that matter, after quitting your alcohol addiction.