The Different Ways Addiction Disrupts Your Body
The short answer to this question is a loud and clear yes. If you’re struggling with addiction, it’s likely that you’re also having a hard time getting to sleep, staying asleep, or staying awake. The same neurotransmitters that regulate sleep are affected by drinking, drug use, and other addictive behaviors. It all starts and ends in the brilliant, boggling brain.
Stimulants, like cocaine, methamphetamines, and ecstasy will speed you up, causing you to clean your bathroom with a toothbrush and completely wrecking your sleep cycle. If you’re using uppers, you might find yourself using other drugs to come down and finally get some rest after a bender. This can become a vicious and exhausting cycle of mood maintenance.
Depressants, like alcohol and benzodiazepines, are often utilized by those suffering from sleep disorders. This can become a chicken and egg issue. Which came first, your addiction or your sleep issue? Do you need alcohol to get to sleep or can you not sleep because of your drinking? Remember that while alcohol might help you doze off, it affects the body’s ability to reach REM sleep, the deep restorative sleep you need to feel amazing in the morning and slay the day. The nightcap is not the answer. Benzos are wonderful sleep aids for insomnia in the short term, but they are incredibly addictive. Nothing will help you sleep soundly as much as healthy sleep habits.
(Take our quiz: How Sleep Friendly is Your Bedroom?)
Even your Starbucks fix will affect your sleep. Consuming caffeine six hours before bedtime can result in an hour’s less sleep. Is your evening latte really worth it?
There are lots of addictions we don’t talk about too often which cause you to stay glued to a computer screen way past bedtime, bleary eyed but unable to pull away. Although you might not be consuming chemicals, your brain is responding as if you are. If gaming, gambling, or porn are causing you to click the night away, then consider logging your use to see how it is affecting your sleep. Or try to get into a regular sleep ritual in the evening which doesn’t involve screens, like reading, listening to podcasts, or calling a friend before bed.
Your brain is a balance of crazy-good chemicals, all bubbling up to create a perfectly balanced you. Addiction throws all that off, causing a disruption in the usual order of things. The good news? Those crazy-good chemicals are here to stay, and they’re ready to rebalance as soon as you’re ready to let them. It’s time to give your brain a break, and get a good night’s sleep.
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As Workit Health's Community Lead, Kali Lux leans in to the culture gap between addiction, recovery, and medicine. She's interested in finding solutions that work for substance users better than drinking or drugging does, and believes Workit is one of them. She's written extensively on her own experience through addiction into long-term recovery. Connect with her on Twitter @kalireadsbooks.