In early recovery sleep can be a challenge. Most people who get clean experience those sleepless nights, tossing and turning, thoughts racing, just wishing you could turn your head off for a little while. Insomnia can be a big trigger for relapse. Conversely, establishing a healthy sleep pattern early on can help you move your recovery along.
So, here’s a few tips for getting some sleep.
Gratitude is one of the best antidotes to self-pity, resentment and other negative feelings that can keep us up at night. Doing a gratitude list before bed concludes the day with a positive, soothing flourish. Multiple studies have shown that gratitude improves sleep.
Another powerful tool for combating the negative thoughts that can torment us at night are the ABCs we learn in Cognitive Behavioural Therapy. Doing ABCs during the day helps to combat those thought patterns so they don’t keep us awake.
3. Wind down.
Take some time before going to bed to wind down and relax. Read a book or watch a movie; anything calming to provide a buffer between a hectic day and bed time.
4. Avoid bright screens before bed.
iPad screens and such like inhibit the release of the sleep hormone melatonin. This makes it harder to get to sleep, and means you get less deep sleep even when you do drift off.
5. Journaling & Inventory.
Reflecting on the day through journaling and inventory can resolve the issues that came up, bring closure and help you let go.
6. Have a bath or shower.
Hot water can be soothing and relaxing. Also washing away the grime of the day and going to bed feeling fresh and clean can be conducive to sleep.
7. Camomile Tea.
Camomile tea is soothing, anxiety-quelling and it helps with sleep.
8. Avoid caffeine in the afternoon and evening.
Caffeine has a half-life of 3-5 hours, so drinking coffee etc. in the afternoon will still leave caffeine in your system at bedtime. One study found that drinking caffeine six hours before bed cuts sleep by one hour.
Exercise wears you out, reduces anxiety and releases sleep-supporting endorphins and endocannabinoids. The more vigorous the better.
10. Stay active, even if you don’t feel like it. When you’re not sleeping, staying active is the last thing you want to do. But it’s the best thing to do if you want to break that sleepless cycle.
Yoga nidra is one of the best styles of meditation to help with sleep. Give this one a try.
12. Wake up and go to bed a the same time each day.
Getting your body into a regular routine is important for good quality sleep. Start with waking up at the same time everyday, even if it feels like a struggle at first. The sleep will soon follow.