I have always been a pretty high-strung person, and I used to use alcohol to calm down. One thing I used to like about drinking, at least early on, was that it seemed to help me sleep. But over time, the easy drift into slumberland became more of a sudden unconsciousness with multiple nighttime wakings to pee, vomit, or lie awake agonizing over how much I drank. Sound familiar? This was the point where I realized alcohol was not helping me sleep. It was preventing me from getting the rest I needed.
I sleep so well now, but I’m not going to sugar-coat it…sleeping was HARD for about the first 2 weeks of my sobriety. My body and mind were missing their usual sedative and didn’t quite know what to make of it. Luckily, after about 2 weeks, I was sleeping like a baby and I still enjoy wonderful sleep most nights. I wake up refreshed and ready to take on the day! It’s one of the most amazing blessings of my sobriety.
BUT not everyone experiences an improvement this quickly, and I have heard from a few that sleep has never come easy to them in sobriety. However, whether you’re 1 day, 1 month, or 1 year sober, there are several strategies that may help you to sleep easier at night. Here are my top suggestions…
Establish a regular bedtime and wakeup time. Sticking with the same routine will help to train your mind and body so they known when you’re ready to sleep each night. This will help to make it easier to fall asleep. For example, you might set your bedtime as 10:30 pm and plan to wake up at 6:30 am each day.
Try not to take naps during the day. I know every now and then you have a rough night sleep and need a cat nap to get through the day, and that is fine! Just try to keep your nap to less than 30 minutes and don’t make daytime napping a habit. This will result in your sleep cycle being altered.
Exercise! Ideally, in the morning or early afternoon. Try to do at least 30 minutes of moderate to high-intensity exercise every day, especially in the first 30 days of sobriety. I took a lot of long walks in that first month without alcohol and it helped me so much!
Stop drinking caffeine by 12 pm. Sip on decaf coffee or tea in the afternoon instead of something caffeinated. And don’t forget to drink plenty of water throughout the day to stay hydrated. This is also really important in your first 30 days sober as your body will be in the process of cleaning out toxins from the alcohol. Extra fluids will help aid the process.
Eat a satisfying dinner. You don’t have to eat a huge meal or anything, but I have found that when I don’t eat enough for dinner, I don’t sleep well. In the early days of sobriety, I always opted for comfort foods for dinner like pasta, beans and rice, pizza, and and other hearty choices. Try to time your dinner so that it’s within 2-3 hours of your bedtime so you won’t be hungry when you lie down to sleep.
Try progressive muscle relaxation, yoga, or meditation. These are all great ways to help calm your mind and body before you go to sleep. I also like reading to help calm myself down before bedtime.
Have a cup of chamomile tea before bed. This is my go-to bedtime tea. I especially like Celestial Seasonings Honey Vanilla Chamomile. I like to breathe in the scent of the tea while I relax in bed. It helps me wind down and I usually fall asleep quickly after that.
If you still can’t sleep, talk to your healthcare provider! You might need a prescription sleep aid to help you sleep, at least temporarily.
Now I’d love to hear from you, what have you found helpful for falling/staying asleep in early sobriety?
One last word of encouragement…sober sleep is amazing once you start experiencing it, but it may take a while. Try to be patient as your body adjusts to life without alcohol and remember that you are doing something that is so healthy for your mind, body, and soul by staying sober. Thanks for reading!
“One thing I used to like about drinking, at least early on, was that it seemed to help me sleep. But over time, the easy drift into slumberland became more of a sudden unconsciousness with multiple nighttime wakings to pee, vomit, or lie awake agonizing over how much I drank. Sound familiar?”Tweet