According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, more than 25 percent of adults in America report binge drinking or alcohol abuse. The first step to stop drinking if an alcohol addiction is present usually involves a detox. However, with detoxing from alcohol comes withdrawal symptoms.
During the withdrawal and detox period, drinking consumption stops, and the alcohol leaves the system. The body craves alcohol, and some unpleasant withdrawal symptoms can begin to appear. One sign can include alcohol withdrawal insomnia, where sleep becomes challenging or even impossible.
What is Alcohol Withdrawal Insomnia?
When alcohol is abused for an extended period, the body begins to depend on the substance. Dependence can mean facing withdrawal symptoms when drinking is stopped. These withdrawal symptoms are the body’s way of adjusting to the lack of chemicals in the system.
Between 25 and 72 percent of patients withdrawing from alcohol have challenges falling or staying asleep during the detox period. This symptom is otherwise known as insomnia, but it can become more complicated by withdrawal from alcohol.
This insomnia is prevalent and extreme in the first few weeks after becoming sober from alcohol. However, it can be months before the struggle with insomnia stops due to recovering from alcohol use disorder.
Why Does Alcohol Withdrawal Cause Insomnia?
Alcohol is a depressant, meaning a bit of alcohol can cause feelings of drowsiness. Alcohol also lowers heart rate, acts as a pain reliever, and helps to slow breathing which all aid in sleep.
However, as alcohol abuse and addiction begin to occur, the body chemistry shifts. Alcohol causes the central nervous system to be more excited, which fights the relaxing and calming effects. Alcohol also affects rapid eye movement (REM) during sleep. REM can cause sleep to be less restorative and beneficial.
What Are Some Additional Alcohol Withdrawal and Insomnia Symptoms?
When a person struggling with alcohol addiction decides to stop drinking, they may face a host of withdrawal symptoms. Each person’s journey to sobriety is unique to them, but all will face some common withdrawal symptoms.
These symptoms of alcohol withdrawal may include:
- Cramps and muscle aches
- Accelerated heart rate
- Shaking hands and throughout the rest of the body
- Extreme cravings
- Nausea and vomiting
- Trouble staying asleep
Some people, who have struggled with alcohol addiction, face additional withdrawal symptoms during alcohol detox. These symptoms include hallucinations and delirium tremens (DTs). It’s essential that these patients detox in a facility that provides medical care and under the watchful eye of medical professionals.
How to Treat Alcohol Withdrawal Insomnia
Sleep is restorative and can help the body heal. Sleep hygiene is also essential to maintaining the ability to get through the day. Rest provides many benefits, and going days without sleep can cause serious health repercussions.
If a person withdrawing from alcohol finds themselves experiencing severe insomnia, they need to seek treatment for it immediately. There are a variety of ways that a medical professional can help a patient with insomnia.
People struggling with a substance use disorder may seek support from treatment centers. Treatment facilities can help people learn to manage their mental and behavioral health issues, including addiction to alcohol. Professional help can help people find long-term recovery while also managing their sleep disturbances.
Use of Medication to Taper Off the Symptoms
Most people, who struggle with alcohol addiction, go to a detox center when they need to stop using alcohol. During their time in treatment, medical professionals may use a variety of medications to help alleviate withdrawal symptoms, including insomnia.
This type of treatment aims to calm or relax the central nervous system. The central nervous system goes into overdrive as the person stops drinking and abusing alcohol. The goal is to return the person’s central nervous system’s activities to the levels of a person who isn’t abusing alcohol. As the average level of activity returns, the patient tapers off the medication.
Medication Targeted to Treat Insomnia
Medical professionals might opt to prescribe medication targeting insomnia specifically. This medication is designed to help the patient fall asleep, stay asleep, and wake up feeling refreshed.
The type of medication, dosage, and length of time the patient takes it varies by the person. If the medications the patient is using aren’t helping with insomnia, they should talk to their doctor.
Non-Medical Tips to Combat Insomnia
There are things that a patient can try to minimize insomnia and help them sleep better without the use of medications. Professionals can help the person determine an approach to sleep that might help their insomnia.
Some of these methods to reduce insomnia include:
- Decide and maintain a specific bedtime
- Avoid caffeine late in the day or eating immediately before trying to go to sleep
- Create a bedtime routine, such as listening to music, breathing exercises, or stretching
- Eliminate as much light as possible
- Keep the room cold
While these can be helpful, if insomnia isn’t helped, the patient needs to talk to their doctor about the condition.
Easing the Symptoms of Alcohol Withdrawal
As a person takes the first steps towards a sober lifestyle, they face many challenges and withdrawal symptoms, including insomnia. It is not uncommon for people withdrawing from alcohol to struggle with sleep disorders. However, sleep during alcohol withdrawal can be achieved with proper care.
At Inland Detox in Riverside, CA, our team understands the withdrawal symptoms associated with alcohol withdrawal including insomnia. We provide compassionate care and work towards easing all the withdrawal symptoms our patients face as they detox from alcohol addiction. With the care and compassion of our team of professionals, people can get a solid start on their alcohol recovery.
Contact us today to learn more about addiction treatment and how we can help with alcohol withdrawal.