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Coping with Insomnia During Withdrawal

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Opiate withdrawal symptoms can be unpleasant, uncomfortable, and painful. One common symptom is insomnia, which can include one or more of the following:


  • Difficulty falling asleep at night
  • Waking frequently during the night
  • Poor sleep that is chronically not restorative


If you have these symptoms of insomnia, it is important that you find ways to alleviate them or cope with them. Withdrawal is physically taxing and good, restful sleep can help limit the severity of your other symptoms, as well as help promote your recovery and decrease the chances of relapse.


The healing properties of sleep include:


  • Promoting the repair and health of your heart and blood vessels
  • Triggering the release of hormones that repair cells and tissues
  • Maintaining the balance of hormones that make you feel hungry and full
  • Supporting the entire immune system


Creating a good sleep process for yourself is an important step. The more disciplined you are, the quicker your symptoms will disappear. Here are some things you can do:


Establish a sleep routine

Try to go to bed and wake up at the same time. Wind down before bed with quiet activities, like reading or doing anything that will relax you before going to sleep. Try to limit your television watching before bed. If you do watch TV, keep it light. Maybe watch a comedy that puts you into a good mood.


Monica Roberts, Ed.D LCPC at Symetria Recovery points out that sleep experts always talk about creating a boundary around your bed. “If you have insomnia you should train your brain that your bed is only for sleeping and sex. Don’t lay in your bed watching TV, be on your phone, or even just relaxing during the day. Train your brain that bed is only for sleep and sex and do any other relaxing activities on the couch or chair in another room. That way, your brain only sees the bed for its intended purposes and helps to associate sleeping with laying in your bed.”


Use a natural approach if you can

Drink a warm cup of caffeine-free tea before bed. Try meditation or yoga to keep your mind at ease. Stay active during the day. Creating a daily routine not only keeps your mind occupied, but it can make you more tired at the end of the day and help you get to sleep.


Try to avoid sleep medications

Sleep medications present the danger of developing a substitute dependency, so if the natural approach is not working, you may want to consult your physician about sleep medications. Your doctor may subscribe a medication that may help you sleep for the first few days of your withdrawal. Discuss the potential side effects before taking these medications and follow your doctor’s instructions to the letter. Under no circumstances should you take more than the prescribed dosage. You may become ill or possibly develop a substitute dependency.


Dale Willenbrink
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