May is Better Sleep Month, which, as you can guess, encourages adults to get enough sleep. But more important than getting those necessary seven to eight hours per night, the focus of Better Sleep Month is to create a healthy rhythm and routine behind sleep. Snagging eight hours of rest is a solid start, but if the kids, dogs, neighbors, whoever, whatever, wake you up countless times throughout the night, or if you’re up and down using the bathroom or getting a drink of water, were you really resting? From a scientific standpoint, those eight hours aren’t considered “good” enough.
Addiction recovery requires that the body become healthy so the mind and spirit can join, too. But, while it’s easy to say, “My new goal is to get eight healthy hours of sleep each night,” it’s tougher to carve into your pre-existing routine and make little changes here and there to prepare for consistent, eight-hour sleep properly. This is why rhythms and routines are so crucial. Without those daily practices, it’s easy to get distracted and sit up late working on projects, assignments, and family tasks while much-needed sleep falls by the wayside.
Take a look at these simple rhythm and routine hacks and discover why they not only ensure healthy sleep but aid in recovery, too.
Map Out The Important And Not-so Important Tasks At The Start Of The Day
Good sleep is hard to come by when your day has been thrown off or when you didn’t stick to the original schedule. This is why you need to create a simple list for each day that strategically lays out which tasks are vital and must be done that day versus which tasks could be pushed off a day or two.
Take this list with you to work; keep it in your calendar or stored on your computer or phone as a constant way to hold yourself accountable. Focus on the big, important tasks and don’t get distracted chasing down the little chores that “need” to get done that day.
Once the big items are checked off the list, your day can mentally wind down because you know you’ve stayed on schedule, and everything that had to be done was already completed. When your mind is at ease, it’s easier to not only fall asleep but stay asleep. This creates room for those healthy, full eight hours of sleep.
Why is this so important? While sleep studies are still relatively new in the scientific world, many scientists believe that there is a direct correlation between drug addiction and insomnia, and as you recover, it’s essential to have a strict sleeping schedule so you can not only prepare for eight hours of sleep but monitor your sleeping patterns, too.
Consistently Log Your Sleeping Habits, Patterns, And Dreams
Not only does insomnia, and even lucid dreams, parallel drug addiction, but scientists believe that relapses are far more likely when sleep patterns are irregular.
When sleep is off, the body’s entire system is off: the immune system, digestive system, and neurological system. When these systems aren’t in sync, the body resorts to fast, unhealthy fixes. Cravings increase as the will to resist decreases.
To ward off cravings and relapses, it’s vital to keep a journal, digital or written, that tabulates your sleep patterns. List how many hours of sleep you received, including the timeframes. List how long it took to fall asleep, how many times you were up and down, how often strange, lucid dreams appear — any and all details are necessary to track.
When you don’t have consistent, rhythmic time set aside for sleep, it’s easy to miss when your sleeping patterns are off or disregard restlessness and weird dreams. Rather than wait until it’s too late (post-cravings or post-relapse), make a daily habit of logging your sleep.
If Sleep Patterns Are Off, Speak Up
Just as there are doctors and therapists for mental health disorders like anxiety, depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), and more, there are professional doctors who aid in sleeping disorders. While culture has created an uneasy stigma around seeking help for anything outside the basic physical checkup, there is no shame in reaching out to a professional.
The process of identifying and combating sleeping disorders is much easier when you have consistently logged your sleep. This provides a roadmap for the doctor that can clearly point out irregularities or areas that need improvement.
Similar to seeing a mental health physician, and even more similar to drug addiction recovery, working with a sleep professional is a process that takes time as you target specific trouble areas and gameplan ways to combat those issues. It requires a consistent routine from you that establishes a much healthier schedule for your body and spirit, preventing cravings, avoiding relapses, and continuing to make big strides in your rehabilitation process.
How Sleeping Habits Empower Recovery
Addiction recovery requires a variety of different healthy habits to get back on track. Because substance abuse changes the way the chemistry of the body and mind works, you can’t separate mental and physical health from the practice of addiction recovery. One such thing that can make a big impact on how a person recovers from addiction is their sleeping habits. Healthy sleeping habits have the power to empower recovery for a variety of reasons…
Addiction destroys healthy sleeping patterns
First of all, it’s important to note that there is a well-recorded link between addiction and sleeping patterns. Many times, people will start self-medicating with abusive substances for the sole purpose of helping them get to sleep. If this is the case, then they will find that it is difficult to get to sleep naturally without the help of that substance. This makes insomnia an all too common occurrence during recovery.
Sleep helps behavioral changes
A consistent daily routine is a powerful tool during recovery that cannot be underestimated. Addiction is a mental disorder that thrives on chaos, but having a continuous routine helps create a structure to put your life and mind back together. A healthy sleeping pattern is a major part of creating this routine and is the bedrock of behavioral changes that are necessary to truly move past substance abuse.
Healthy sleeping tips
When struggling with insomnia and developing healthy sleeping habits, there are a few tips that you can use to help get your mind and body to rest:
- Be Active, Daily: Make sure you are spending your day being active with your body and your mind. Add in some stretches of exercise to help keep your body pumped up. This will make it easier to fall asleep, later.
- Avoid Late Caffeine: In addiction recovery, you want to keep your caffeine intake under control for a variety of reasons, not least of which is that it will get in the way of your sleeping patterns if you have it too late in the day.
- Put Away Devices: We spend so much of every day surrounded by bright screens, but that’s not something we want when we’re trying to get to sleep. Don’t spend any time scrolling through your phone, laptop, or tablet after you’ve already laid down.
Understanding the importance of healthy sleep is important for everyone, no matter which phase of life they are walking through. If it’s important for everyone, then it’s an essential part of the rehabilitation process as your physical body begins a new, healthy routine of recovery. Here at Renaissance Ranch, we encourage you to honor your body, just as you honor your mind and spirit, and take note when you aren’t getting the physical rest you need to recover. If you wake up at odd hours of the night, fighting restlessness, having constant, uneasy dreams, or anything else inhibiting proper sleep, never feel ashamed of seeking help. Each of our staff is here as your constant partner in this journey. We are always available if you struggle with poor sleeping patterns, cravings, relapses, or any other aspect of your drug addiction journey. To learn more about our assistance, contact us today at (801) 308-8898.