How Long Does Insomnia Last After Quitting Alcohol?

Recovering from alcohol addiction often involves several common side effects, including symptoms of insomnia. Whether you’re currently recovering or thinking about starting your recovery journey, you may be wondering how long symptoms of insomnia may last after quitting alcohol.

In this article, we’re taking a closer look at a common question we hear from visitors – how long does insomnia last after quitting alcohol?

How Long Does Insomnia Last After Quitting Alcohol?

Studies have shown that symptoms of insomnia are five times higher for those quitting alcohol than for others.

For some time now, your mind and body have relied on alcohol to help you fall asleep, or pass out, or wake up. Your brain has become accustomed to alcohol making decisions regarding your sleep habits.

Now that you are sober, your mind and body must learn how to regulate all its functions again.

If you are currently experiencing insomnia after quitting alcohol, you are probably wondering how long it will last. That’s not a simple answer due to the many differences in each person’s level of addiction. For some, a few weeks of tossing and turning may be all they experience. For others, it can be months.

Even when other withdrawal symptoms subside, sleep problems can persist.

While each person will have different insomnia symptoms, there are some things you can do to shorten your struggle with insomnia.

First, understand the definition of insomnia to make sure this is what you are experiencing.

So, how long does insomnia last after quitting alcohol and how can insomnia treatment help?

What is Insomnia?

If you have trouble falling asleep, staying asleep, or attaining restful sleep, you could have insomnia. There are two categories of insomnia, sleep onset and sleep maintenance. Sleep onset insomnia happens when your biological clock or circadian rhythm has been interrupted in some way. Jet lag, moving to a new time zone, and even stressful events can be causes.

Each of these types can be acute, chronic, or comorbid.

Another cause, as you may be dealing with now, is quitting alcohol.

Sleep maintenance insomnia means you have a hard time staying asleep, or even if you get eight hours of sleep, it is not restful sleep. You feel just as tired when you wake up as you did when you fell asleep.

Both drinking alcohol and withdrawing from alcohol can cause problems with sleep maintenance.

Getting healthy sleep when quitting alcohol is a big deal. It’s essential to do what you can to reduce symptoms of insomnia to aid in recovery.

Sleep and Recovery

Lack of sleep leads to both physical and mental health dangers. Every single part of your body is affected negatively when you don’t get quality sleep. Your skin can develop rashes and become dry, you may find it hard to focus, and your blood pressure can rise, leading to heart disease or stroke.

Further, lack of sleep can impact your digestive system, lead to anxiety and depression, and can impair your immune system. Ultimately, insomnia could lead to relapse.

If you cannot recover mentally and physically, it will be hard to stay sober long-term. That’s why it is important to implement actions that promote sleep quality, like the ones below.

Develop Sleep Hygiene

Sleep hygiene refers to the positive actions you do before and after sleep that help create a routine or schedule. These actions become habits that help your body’s natural biological clock know what to expect throughout each day.

For example, if you take a hot bath at 9 pm before going to bed each night at 9:30 pm, your body will start to relax and prepare for sleep each night, starting with the bath. The brain connects these activities with going to sleep.

Without a routine, your body is continually guessing when it should rest and when it should be active.

Take Medication Prescribed by a Psychiatrist

Working with a psychiatrist at a mental health center allows you to be assessed for medication use to help you sleep. Your doctor can prescribe a medication that is non-addictive so you can avoid switching from alcohol addiction to a sleeping pill addiction.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

Sometimes it is hard to fall or stay asleep because your thoughts are racing. You find it hard to keep your mind quiet long enough to fall asleep. This can also make it hard to fall back asleep if you are woken up in the middle of the night.

Exploring cognitive behavioral therapy with a licensed therapist can help get your thoughts organized and out in the open. When you share your thoughts, you no longer need to hold on to them in your mind. Even keeping a journal can help with this problem.

Cognitive-behavioral therapy can also help you work through any other issues, like those intense cravings and triggers you may be dealing with after quitting alcohol.

Sleep Restriction Therapy

Sleep restriction therapy reduces insomnia by reducing the amount of time you spend in bed. This may seem confusing at first, but it is based on the theory that spending too much time in your bed can cause you to have insomnia.

It’s almost like your bed is no longer associated with just sleep, but also with watching television, lounging, eating, and whatever else you do in bed. Therefore, your body gets confused about what it is supposed to do when you are in bed.

With this therapy, your therapist will help you set a time limit for how long you can spend in bed, like 5 hours the first week. As you progress, you can add a half hour or so to your sleep time. You are essentially retraining your brain to expect to sleep when in your bed.

Additional Actions

Complementary treatments like yoga, meditation, and massage are very effective in reducing insomnia after quitting alcohol. You may also want to try progressive muscle relaxation, aromatherapy, bright light therapy, and biofeedback exercises, which your mental health therapist can teach you.

Finally, change your diet to include vitamins like melatonin, nutrients, and minerals your body needs. Replacing these can improve many health issues, especially insomnia.

With a healthy diet, physical activity and exercise should follow. The more you do to heal your body, the faster your insomnia will fade away after you quit alcohol.