Is Sleep Impacted in Opioid Addiction Recovery?


According to the National Sleep Foundation, chronic pain can take away at least 42 minutes of sleep each night. While this doesn’t seem like a lot, it really adds up in the end. After one month, that’s around a total of 30 hours of missed sleep. As the opioid crisis may indicate, a lot of Americans are struggling with chronic pain. The Washington Post suggests that 1 in 10 Americans experience this, which may include pain from a sports injury, accident, assault, medical concern, or something else. If you’ve struggled with chronic pain, you may have sought out painkillers from your physician – while this may have provided much relief, painkillers can become extremely addictive, especially if you take more than recommended and/or more often than prescribed.

Opioid addiction recovery typically begins with detoxification, a process in which the body naturally dispels toxins that were acquired while the painkillers were abused. If your body is having difficulty cleansing itself, medication may be prescribed. What comes with detoxification is often a host of unpleasant side effects – such as nausea, dizziness, fatigue, irritability, cravings, and more. Opioids may have helped you get good sleep before – after all, they attach to opioid receptors in the brain and affect the limbic system (emotions and feelings of pleasure and relaxation), brainstem (controls automatic functions of the body), and spinal cord (receives sensations from the body before sending them to the brain).

With opiate withdrawal in particular, insomnia is one of the most challenging and frustrating aspects of recovery as a person may experience restless legs, aches, pains, chills, cold sweats, racing thoughts, and more. If you’re having difficulty sleeping, it’s important that you try and partake in healthy activities that will help you get sleep, such as:

  • Light exercise such as walking
  • Reading an informative book, listening to soothing music, journaling, etc.
  • Watching a funny movie or television show
  • Practicing meditation before bed
  • Attending regular therapy to help ease racing thoughts

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) emphasizes that sleep loss can have significant negative effects on recovery – although the pain may feel unbearable at times, speak with your healthcare team to develop a plan of action for helping ease the pain in a safe way. Withdrawal is only temporary and is likely exacerbating your symptoms. Recovery is possible – don’t give up.

Simple Recovery is a world-renowned, California state-licensed substance abuse recovery center. We offer dual diagnosis treatment, so if you are experiencing both substance abuse and symptoms of a mental disorder, call us today at 888-743-0490 so that we can work with you to restore your happiness, health, and well-being. You do not have to continue living this way; there are many people here ready to help you.