Practicing Good Sleep Hygiene in Recovery

Practicing good sleep hygiene is an important component in recovery from a substance use disorder. People often struggle with a sleep routine while using substances. They may not keep regular sleeping hours, often staying up all night and sleeping all day.  They don’t let sleep come naturally, instead inducing sleep with substances.  None of these behaviors are an asset to recovery, so people need to change their relationships with sleep in order to maintain their sobriety.

Practicing good sleep hygiene is often easier said than done.  The actions that promote good sleep are simple themselves – breaking bad habits is the difficult part. It’s helpful to frame good sleep hygiene as a list of dos and don’ts.  Below is an outline of helpful behaviors to promote good sleep and unhelpful behaviors that will contribute to poor sleep.

Behaviors that Promote Good Sleep

  • Develop a bedtime routine to signal to your brain that it is time to go to sleep. This can include changing into pajamas, washing your face, brushing your teeth, and engaging in a relaxing activity like reading, listening to music, or journaling.
  • Exercise during the day to tire your body and mind.
  • Keep a journal next to your bed so that you can write down racing thoughts that are making it difficult to sleep.
  • Go to bed at the same time each night and wake up at the same time each morning.

Behaviors to Avoid Before Bed

  • Stop consuming stimulants like caffeine and nicotine at least two hours before bed.
  • Don’t nap throughout the day; it will make it harder to fall asleep at night.
  • Don’t hang out in your bedroom. Your bedroom should just be a place to sleep.
  • Don’t engage in any exciting hobbies, like playing video games or watching an action movie, before bed.

If you find yourself struggling to use these suggested sleep hygiene tips successfully, consider working with a therapist who can provide you with additional resources and help you problem-solve issues that are negatively impacting your sleep. At Rehab After Work, we help many people with substance use disorders get into recovery, and we can address sleeplessness that often comes in early recovery. Consider working with our therapists if you need support.

Related: How to Sleep Better in Recovery