What Is Sleep Hygiene and Why Is It Important in Recovery?
This entry was posted in Recovery and tagged , , on by .

During addiction and recovery, sleep disturbances are frustratingly common. Actually, being able to get a good night’s sleep can be very challenging, particularly in early recovery. Sometimes, in order to relax and sleep well, you need to put in extra effort ahead of time. What is sleep hygiene, and why is it important in recovery?

The Fundamentals of Sleep Hygiene

Sleep hygiene refers to the environment, habits, and beliefs surrounding your sleep. Many people take sleep for granted, being able to sleep whenever and wherever they want, but for those in recovery, sleep can be a rare commodity that is worth working for. By prioritizing your sleep and practicing good sleep hygiene, you also create a positive mental state surrounding sleep to help promote successful sleep.

Sleep hygiene has many elements. The main concepts are to have an optimal sleep environment, mentally and physically prepare your body and your environment, regulate your circadian rhythm by properly caring for your health, and establish proper routines so that your body acclimates. Some of the more specific guidelines include:

  • Dim your lights while you get ready for bed to help your body relax and prepare for sleep.
  • Use relaxation techniques ahead of bedtime to calm your mind and body.
  • Have a set bedtime routine that tells your body it is time for bed each night.
  • Have a set wake-up time, even on the weekend, so your body maintains the daily routine.
  • Prioritize sleep – be strict about your bedtime and do not let other activities interfere with your sleep time.
  • Limit napping – only nap when necessary and only early in the afternoon so as not to interfere with your ability to get to sleep at bedtime.
  • Use your bed for sleep only – do not eat, work, or do other activities in bed, so your body and mind know that it is time to sleep when you get into bed.

Optimize Your Sleep Environment

An important element of sleep hygiene is to optimize your sleep environment. Giving your body the ideal environment and maximum comfort will promote restful sleep. In addition to keeping your sleeping area clean and neat and having decor that is inviting for you, remember the following basic criteria to optimize your environment:

  • Have a comfortable mattress and bedding.
  • Set a cool, comfortable temperature.
  • Use blackout curtains to block all light.
  • Limit noise or use white noise.
  • Use mild aromatherapy, such as lavender, to help calm.

What Part Does Your Circadian Rhythm Play in Healthy Sleep Patterns?

Your circadian rhythm is your body’s internal clock that helps control the release of certain hormones, your eating and digestion habits, body temperature, and most noticeably, influences your sleep cycle. The circadian rhythm is influenced by light patterns that tell your body when to release melatonin, which is a hormone that helps make you sleepy. Drugs and alcohol can interfere with your circadian rhythm and recovery from addiction. Helping your body establish a normal circadian rhythm will help restore healthy sleep patterns in recovery.

What Can You Do to Normalize Your Circadian Rhythm?

Some of the things you can do each day to influence your body’s circadian rhythm include:

  • Get sunlight every day – sunlight during the day establishes a day and night pattern for your body.
  • Exercise regularly, such as walking or yoga – exercise helps your body be naturally tired at the end of the day.
  • Avoid smoking – nicotine interferes with your hormones, which can interrupt sleep patterns.
  • No caffeine in the afternoon or evening as it is a stimulant.
  • Eat dinner earlier; no heavy or spicy meals just before bedtime, as they will sit in your stomach and be digested, which can prevent you from sleeping or getting quality sleep.
  • No devices 60 minutes before bedtime – the light from devices confuses the body and prevents melatonin from being released to cause drowsiness.

Why Sleep Hygiene Is Crucial in Recovery

Being tired and not having enough sleep is one of the more common causes of relapse. Establishing healthy sleep patterns in recovery can help prevent relapse. Practicing good sleep hygiene can help you establish and maintain those healthy sleep patterns, even if it takes a while due to the changes in your mind and body during recovery.

Even if sleep is difficult during early recovery, by establishing healthy sleep habits through good sleep hygiene, you will eventually be able to enjoy a good night’s sleep. Practicing good sleep hygiene will help establish and maintain other daily routines and help nurture self-discipline, which will also help you manage your recovery. Getting good sleep will also help with your mental and emotional wellness, which also helps in relapse prevention.

What is sleep hygiene, and why is it important in recovery? Sleep hygiene is the environment, habits, and beliefs surrounding your sleep every night. When you follow the basic guidelines of sleep hygiene, including optimizing your sleep environment and making efforts to normalize your circadian rhythm, you can also help prevent relapse. At The Ho Tai Way – Recovery For Women, we know the importance of a good night’s sleep. Our Costa Mesa, California, residential treatment facility is a peaceful refuge from the storms of life. We offer trauma-informed care for women with addiction and co-occurring mental health diagnoses. Our goal is to provide a safe place for you to find your way again. You already have the tools inside you to achieve sobriety. We help you use them. Contact us at (714) 581-3974 to learn more about our program.