Rock-A-Bye Baby for recovery … Did you have a favorite lullaby as a kid? Or maybe there was a book you loved to have someone read to you over and over at bedtime. Maybe you had a special stuffed animal or an especially comfortable set of pajamas that always seemed to make it easier to fall asleep. Or maybe you had a nightlight you really loved that gave just enough light to make you feel secure, but not enough to keep you from drifting off.
All of those things sound lovely, don’t they? For many (though certainly not for everyone), it can be pleasant to look back on fond memories of a time when sleep seemed to come easily.
But if you are an adult who has trouble falling or staying asleep, it can seem like nothing—not a lullaby nor a book nor a teddy bear nor comfy jammies nor a nightlight—can allow you to get the rest you need.
That is a significant problem for anyone to deal with. But for a person in recovery from a substance use disorder, the issue can lead to more than a loss of sleep. It can lead to a loss of sobriety.
As a result, it is essential that you find a reliable set of strategies that can help you drift off to dreamland. We have some ideas to share.
First, A Note About Prescription Sleep Aids
For many who struggle with insomnia, a prescription for a sleep aid can be a godsend. But for a person in recovery, meds—including those intended to help you sleep—can be a risky approach. So, if you decide to talk with your doctor about your sleeping issues, be sure to be honest with them about the fact that you are in recovery. It is all too easy for something that is intended to solve a problem to create a different problem.
The Benefits of a Bedtime Routine
At the start of this entry, we mentioned some things that may have helped you sleep when you were a child. But what we didn’t mention is the ways in which a number of things might have come together to form your bedtime routine.
Maybe you had a specific time when you were expected to put your pajamas on. A little while later it might have been time to brush your teeth and then make your way around your home wishing your folks, your siblings, and perhaps even your pets goodnight. Then you jumped up on your bed, got under the covers, and listened to a story or a lullaby or both. Maybe you finished up with a nighttime prayer. And then it was time to cuddle your stuffed animal and go to sleep.
That might not be a perfect description of your personal routine, but you get the idea. Sticking with a consistent routine helps children get to sleep more easily.
As it would turn out, a consistent routine can help adults get to sleep more easily, too.
What does an adult bedtime routine involve? Here are some ideas and options:
- Put the screens down early. All of the screens we look at throughout the day have a tendency to impact our ability to sleep. So, powering down the screens well ahead of bedtime is a great idea.
- Set aside some time to wind down. Maybe you enjoy an evening bath. Perhaps a cup or herbal tea or hot chocolate helps you relax. Maybe listening to some relaxing music while doing a few stretches or writing in your journal is your preference. Perhaps reading a chapter or two of an engrossing book helps you get ready for sleep. Maybe a mindfulness exercise is the perfect preparation for rest. Giving yourself some wind-down time can ease the transition from wakefulness to sleep.
- Stick to a regular bedtime—and a regular time for getting up. Setting a bedtime might seem particularly childlike at first but having a regular time for sleep and a regular time for waking can help your body and mind get into a healthy rhythm.
- Make sure your environment is set up to help you rest. Roomy jammies, a comfortable mattress, good pillows, and the right sheets and blanket are a good start. You also want to ensure that your sleeping space is dark, cool, and uncluttered. White noise, soft music, or the sleep stories on offer from many apps might serve you well, too.
- Have a plan for when you wake up in the night. It isn’t terribly helpful to toss and turn. Instead, you may want to get up, keep the lights low, and do something quiet and relaxing until you feel sleepy. Resist the urge to look at your screens (see the first bullet point!).
Taking an intentional approach to getting the sleep you need is an excellent way to shore up your sobriety.
Don’t Sleep on Your Substance Use Disorder. Seek Recovery.
If you are struggling with drugs or alcohol, you don’t want to wait to get the help you need. When you are ready to regain your sobriety, all of us at French Creek Recovery Center in Meadville, PA, are ready to help with medically supervised detox, intensive rehab programs, and a commitment to a continuum of care.