Insomnia After Quitting Alcohol


Stopping the use of alcohol because it is causing problems in your life takes courage and commitment. There are both psychological and physical hurdles to overcome when seeking sobriety.

Once your body has built up a physical dependence upon alcohol, called tolerance, and alcohol use stops, withdrawal symptoms will occur. Symptoms can range from mild to severe, and frequently include insomnia and other sleep disruptions.

Other physical signs of withdrawal may include tremors, shakiness, nausea, vomiting, headache, sweating, heart palpitations, and more.

Psychological withdrawal symptoms often include anxiety, depression, and intense cravings. In cases of excessive, long-term alcohol use, more severe symptoms such as confusion, and convulsions may occur. Delirium tremens is the most severe form of alcohol withdrawal and occur in a small percentage of individuals.

Sleep Problems Associated with Alcohol Cessation

Between 25 and 72 percent of people in treatment for an alcohol use disorder (AUD) complain of sleep problems, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). These sleep issues can include insomnia, disrupted sleep patterns, sleep apnea, or other sleep-disordered breathing. SAMHSA statistics indicate such sleep problems can last weeks, months, or even years after drinking stops.

Multiple studies support the finding that those in recovery from an AUD often experience sleep disturbances that last up to months or longer, and that getting to sleep was the most reported challenge. The lack of quality sleep poses a threat to recovery, as it may be associated with adverse health effects or relapse.

David Hodgins, professor of psychology at the University of Calgary, was quoted by ScienceDaily as stating, “Sleep has a reputation among the recovering community of being one of the last things that fall back into place for an individual. It’s also recognized as a potential precipitant of relapse.”

How Do Sleep Problems Threaten Recovery?

Continual lack of quality sleep can have dangerous health effects. It can seriously suppress the immune system, impair cognitive and motor function, and increase the risk for heart disease, heart attack, stroke, diabetes, and more. Sleep problems also contribute to irritability, anxiety, and depression, which can seriously impact those in recovery.

If you’re in recovery and having sleep problem, it’s important to discuss the situation with your doctor. There are medications, behavioral therapies, and other approaches your doctor can recommend.

Tips to Improve Your Quality of Sleep

There are also several steps you can take to improve your quality of sleep and quality of life. Some you can adopt on your own, and some are under the supervision of a health professional.

Sleep Exercises Supervised or Prescribed by Health Professional:

  • Bright light therapy
  • Biofeedback
  • Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT)
  • Sleep restriction therapy
  • Sleep apnea devices – continuous positive airway pressure machine (CPAP) or other dental devices

Sleep Exercises You Can Do On Your Own:

  • Yoga or mindfulness meditation
  • Aromatherapy – lavender, bergamot, and jasmine promote sleep
  • Progressive muscle relaxation
  • Regular physical exercise
  • Healthy diet – restrict intake of caffeine, processed foods. Eat grains, lean proteins, vegetables, fruits, and drink lots of water
  • Sleep hygiene tips
  • Turn off electronics at least one hour before bedtime

Don’t let the fear of insomnia or other effects from alcohol cessation discourage you from seeking sobriety. With professional assistance, withdrawal and other side effects can be managed and you can achieve the quality of life you deserve.

As an extended care treatment facility, Midwest Recovery Centers serves to provide intensive recovery treatment for alcohol addiction as well as other life problems. Contact us today to see how we can help you or your loved one begin recovery.


Reviewed and Assessed by
Taylor Brown, B.A.Com., MAADC II
Tim Coleman, M. of Ed.

Staffed 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Click or Call Today! 844-990-1578

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