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The Importance of Sleep in Addiction Recovery

Importance of Sleep

Substance use disorder (SUD), also known as addiction, is listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5) as a complex, chronic brain disorder. The Mayo Clinic explains addiction as a disease “that affects a person’s brain and behavior and leads to an inability to control the use of a legal or illegal drug or medication” without regard for consequence. An individual struggling with addiction will prioritize satisfying his or her substance cravings above all else, which can lead to secondary physiological complications, such as sleep problems. For example, alcohol abuse is disruptive to sleeping patterns because it suppresses sleep, hindering one’s ability to obtain a restorative, good night’s rest. One study that systematically evaluated various sleep disorders in people with addiction concluded that “sleep and addiction are intricately linked… [and those] with addiction are 5 to 10 times more likely to have comorbid sleep disorders.” According to a study in the Journal of Addiction Medicine, the occurrence of insomnia is five times higher for those in early recovery than in the general population. Insomnia is characterized by “the subjective complaint of difficulty falling or maintaining sleep, or nonrestorative sleep, producing significant daytime symptoms including difficulty concentrating and mood disturbances.” Research suggests that sleep disturbances among those recovering from substance use disorder are at an elevated risk of relapse compared to those without a sleep disturbance. 

Why Is Sleep Important?

Sleep deprivation is known to cause cognitive impairments, such as increased impulsivity, poor judgment, and/ or irritability. Sleep is a fundamental necessity of life, and even a minor sleep deficit can have a significant effect on one’s physical and mental health and impede one’s addiction recovery process. Cultivating healthy sleep habits can help you stay mentally, physically, and emotionally fit. Further, ample sleep can help your body expel toxins, as evidence indicates that “when one sleeps, the brain reorganizes and recharges itself, and removes toxic waste byproducts which have accumulated throughout the day.” Much of recovery is about replacing harmful habits with healthy ones and taking small steps to improve your sleep hygiene practices can be instrumental in the maintenance of your sobriety as well as enhance your overall well-being. 

How Much Sleep Do I Need?

The National Sleep Foundation created a chart that illustrates the ideal amount of sleep a person should obtain (ranging from infants into adulthood). The chart is broken up such that adults ideal sleep durations vary. Young adults between ages eighteen to twenty-five should be getting between seven to nine hours of sleep, nightly. Adults between the ages of twenty-six and sixty-four should also obtain between seven to nine hours of sleep. Adults older than sixty-five years of age are recommended to get between seven to eight hours of sleep, nightly. 

For Information and Support 

Substance abuse and addiction can be incredibly dangerous and can result in severe short and long-term consequences. If you or someone you know is suffering from substance abuse or addiction, please get help as soon as possible. The earlier you seek support, the sooner you and your loved ones can return to leading happy, healthy, and fulfilling lives. There is no reason to go through this alone, and we are here to help. Please feel free to reach out to us for further information or with any questions regarding substance abuse or addiction. We are available anytime via telephone at: 213-389-9964, or you can always email us at:

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