Quit Drinking Can’t Sleep? The World Of Sleep After Ditching Alcohol
You have decided to finally knock the booze on the head once and for all. You are mentally ready to reclaim your life from the world of drinking, rid your body of this liquid poison and spoil yourself with much-needed vitamins, healthy exercise and beautiful rest.
First of all WELL DONE and congratulations on making the best decision of your life! You are well and truly on the way to giving you and your family the greatest gift of all – a sober you 🙂
Let’s be clear- making this decision will not be easy – but it will be soooo worth it. You will encounter problems and struggles along the way to finding your alcohol-free self, and this is perfectly normal.
One of the common problems that you may face is sleep – or lack of it. Getting to sleep and staying asleep can be a challenge.
Sleeping is one of life’s most needed functions to survive, and sleep deprivation can be a torturous experience.
Watching the hours go around through the night, wondering why you cannot get to sleep even though you are physically and mentally worn out. This is a very common problem with anyone trying to cut alcohol from their lives.
Problems with getting to sleep and staying asleep is quite a normal experience, and often sleep issues can last for months after quitting alcohol consumption.
Personally, it was one of the biggest hurdles to getting back to ‘normal’ (whatever normal is), learning how to sleep – it is a challenge that is often ignored – with the priority or focus just on the stopping drinking ‘bit’.
Sleep problems after quitting drinking
When a person decides to stop drinking alcohol, there is often plans in place to help maintain absinence. Advice is thrown about online such as “remove yourself from your drinking friends”. You may hear people saying to “write down your drinking goals” or “count how much money you are saving and buy yourself treats”.
All great advice and plans, but planning to sleep once quitting drinking is usually an afterthought or something that did not even enter the equation until you meet this as an issue.
The benefits of a good night’s sleep after quitting alcohol.
Make no mistake, sleep is an absolute gift that just keeps on giving (I hate that saying at times, but it seriously worth fighting through that ‘quit drinking can’t sleep’ stage that so many go through.
Work your way through it and start experiencing some of these gems –
- Improves concentration
- Helps with your overall emotional well-being
- A healthy sleep pattern reduces stress levels
- Sleep lowers your blood pressure
- It promotes your natural healing process
As you can see – the benefits of decent sleep, along with removing alcohol from your system is a fantastic overall boost to your health. So, let’s make sure that you don’t miss out on that aspect – and enjoy quitting alcohol and ALL it’s positives 🙂
Long-term alcohol users and heavier drinkers usually have more issues with getting to sleep than actually staying asleep.
Sleep is often one of the toughest challenges that anyone going through alcohol recovery experiences, and putting things in place to counter these problems can be a very good tool in your arsenal to quit the booze.
The first thing that I will say, is that for most people there is no ‘quick fix’ or easy remedy to getting your sleep back to a healthy regime.
After years of pouring poison into your body, simply stopping and getting a decent night’s sleep will not happen immediately. Now, this might not be something you want to hear when you quit drinking and can’t sleep – but it is something that you will have to ride out.
There will be long nights and early mornings ahead, but it will be so worth it all in the long run. After a time, the feeling of experiencing a normal, healthy night’s sleep will be a gift that really does keep on giving.
So prepare yourself, find some things to occupy yourself on those long nights. Rather than ‘crawling the walls’, put things in place at the ready.
Read, watch tv, do whatever ‘gets you through the night’. Each evening you spend doing this will be very strong steps toward your recovery as a whole.
Now, let’s look at some things that we can do to encourage a peaceful night’s sleep after quitting drinking.
A ‘quit drinking can’t sleep’ plan to get over these problems.
Putting a plan together to help with your sleep WILL help your overall goal to becoming alcohol free.
Good sleep hygiene to aid in sleeping when quitting drinkingDevelop a bedtime routine that helps you relax.
- Listen to music – something relaxing and calming
- Develop a bedtime routine that helps you relax.
- Read – allow your mind to wander into a good book
- Write down any worries on a pad for the next day, and ‘put them to bed’ – an effective tool used by many to manage anxiety
- Try meditation – there are lots of apps around now with access to limitless types of meditation – Spotify also has oodles of great meditation tracks
- Go to bed and get out of bed at regular times.
Let’s Delve a bit deeper into some of these tips to help you sleep.
Avoid stimulants before bed.
You have to rid of one of the most toxic legal poisons known to man – alcohol. Your ‘quit drinking can’t sleep’ challenge may well be rife and targeting your body. Do yourself a massive favour and do not add other stimulants to your already recovering body. This includes caffeine-based drinks – or anything high in sugar.
Avoid coffee, fizzy drinks, sugary foods like chocolate or cakes – and if you are struggling with sleep then absolutely cut energy drinks out of your diet. I cannot personally stand these drinks, but see that they are very popular in current times. I try not to understand the ‘why’…but take a look at the content of these drinks, and you will see that they really should be avoided if you are trying to get a well-rested sleep.
Remove electronic devices, TVs, Phones or other gadgets.
We are in the era of technology addiction – this is true now and seems to be increasing. Everywhere you look around you, you will see people permanently attached to their phones and other devices. This is obviously their choice, but from a sleep perspective, it is a bad choice.
Having your mind racing with this sort of stimulation really does not allow your mind to rest. And, when quitting drinking, your mind needs rest.
Allow your mind to unwind without staring at your phone, playing games, flickering lights etc
As you progress through your alcohol-free journey, you will gain natural energy and feel fitter. This will happen 100%. Regular exercise 3-4 times per week is not only great for general health, but it promotes great sleep and allows your body to tire naturally. Embrace being more mobile.
I personally found running a great introduction to my sober life, and started out with the free program Couch to 5 K. It is a podcast-based beginner’s running program that offers guided runs to get you running up to 5k. The program starts off with a combination of walking and light jogging, with tips on how to control your breathing and generally running. I loved the gentle approach that made running fun, and wholeheartedly recommend it to anyone who has quit drinking and is struggling with sleep. It was designed by the NHS, and you can check out the couch to 5k run here.
Be aware of your sleep environment. A quiet, dark and relaxing room.
Your sleeping environment is extremely vital to having a successful, relaxing and refreshing sleep. Allow your room to be at a comfortable temperature, use gentle lighting if you prefer not to sleep in total darkness, and enjoy quiet or tranquil noises.
A total game-changer for my own environment was a weighted blanket. I am not promoting them here for anything other than they work!! Google ‘weighted blanket’ – they are used for anxiety and comfort and a whole host of other lovely things. And for sleep. Let’s not forget sleep!