Open Accessibility Menu
A Dream Deferred: How Substance Abuse Affects Sleep

A Dream Deferred: How Substance Abuse Affects Sleep

Silver Ridge Recovery

Substance abuse is associated with many physical and mental health problems, including sleep disturbances. The relationship between sleep disruptions and substance abuse work in two directions:

  1. Substances can cause sleep disturbances
  2. Sleep difficulties can result in addiction (or relapse) due to substance use for relief.

How Our Bodies Regulate Sleep: Circadian Rhythms

Circadian rhythms are the changes people experience that result from a daily cycle. The way we respond to daylight and darkness is one example. Sleeping at night and being awake during the day is a light-related circadian rhythm.

Our biological clocks produce circadian rhythms and regulate their timing by using proteins that communicate throughout the cells in the body. Signals from the outside environment, such as light and darkness, cue our circadian rhythms. Irregular rhythms have known links to many chronic health conditions, such as sleep disorders (i.e. insomnia), depression, and bipolar disorder.

Substance Abuse and Insomnia

One in five people suffer from chronic insomnia, and this puts them at risk for substance abuse. Researchers have found that people who have sleep and circadian disorders can develop or see a progression of central nervous system (CNS) disorders like substance abuse. People who can’t sleep well may seek relief by taking drugs or alcohol, and long-term use becomes an addiction.

Alcohol and Sleep Disturbances

When people with alcohol use problems drink, they typically have problems falling asleep and sleep for less time. Also, researchers found that people with alcohol abuse problems are more likely to suffer from other sleep disorders, such as sleep apnea.

Conversely, sleeping problems may influence some individuals to develop alcohol problems when they frequently drink to induce sleep. In addition, sleep problems may raise the risk of relapse among people who are abstinent after having alcohol abuse issues.

The Role of Sleep in Addiction Treatment

The regulation of the sleep-wake cycle can play an important role in treating addictive behaviors. Sleep and circadian-based interventions are critical parts in the prevention and treatment of substance use disorders.

Sleep Interventions:

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) as a sleep intervention, can help regulate sleep at night, improve sleep quality, and enhance daylight functioning. Treatment using CBT, which uses behavioral and cognitive strategies, focuses on the factors that cause long-term insomnia due to behaviors that disrupt the circadian system.

CBT addresses these behaviors, including, using alcohol or drugs to sleep, napping during the day, using large amounts of caffeine to stay awake during the day, and reducing the stress that surrounds the inability to sleep. CBT can also address unrealistic sleep expectations in order to promote better sleep.

Circadian-Based Interventions:

Circadian-based interventions are used to control environmental cues. Chronic insomnia can be triggered by the environment where a person sleeps. If the bed and bedroom become associated with wakefulness and with activities and behaviors that are not conducive to sleep, insomnia can result. Examples include watching television, reading, or worrying about insomnia.

These cues associated with wakefulness are modified to make the sleep environment more conducive to a good night’s rest. Stimulus control therapy is used to make environment stimuli more compatible with sleeping and to stabilize the sleep/wake clock.


Focus, Healing, and Recovery

Life at Silver Ridge is purposely designed to provide the safest and most restorative healing environment on the East Coast. If you would like to learn more about Silver Ridge or begin addiction treatment today, please call (855) 945-7788 or fill out the form and one of our admissions staff will be in touch with you soon.

  • Please enter your First Name.
  • Please enter your Last Name.
  • This isn't a valid phone number.
    Please enter your phone number.
    You entered an invalid number.
  • This isn't a valid email address.
    Please enter your email address.
  • Please make a selection.
  • Sivermist
    Sivermist Sivermist

    Offering luxury residential treatment at a private residence in rural southwestern Pennsylvania.

  • REAL Recovery
    REAL Recovery REAL Recovery

    Providing high-quality, adventure-based and personalized care with four sober homes for men ages 18-28 in Asheville, North Carolina.

  • High Focus Centers
    High Focus Centers High Focus Centers

    The premier provider of structured outpatient behavioral health and addiction treatment programs in New Jersey.

  • Rehab After Work
    Rehab After Work Rehab After Work

    The leading provider of outpatient drug and alcohol treatment programs in Pennsylvania.

  • Pyramid Healthcare Inc
    Pyramid Healthcare Inc Pyramid Healthcare Inc

    A premier provider of behavioral healthcare founded in 1999 offering a full continuum of recovery services for adults and teens at 24 locations in PA.

  • The light program
    The light program The light program

    Treating individuals in crisis or struggling to function through mental health Intensive Outpatient programs at locations in southeastern Pennsylvania.

  • Seeds of hope
    Seeds of hope Seeds of hope

    Providing specialized Intensive Outpatient eating disorder treatment for teens and adults in southeastern Pennsylvania and New Jersey.

  • Mazzitti & Sullivan EAP
    Mazzitti & Sullivan EAP Mazzitti & Sullivan EAP

    Providing comprehensive Employee Assistance Program services to employers nationwide.

  • Mazzitti & Sullivan
    Mazzitti & Sullivan Mazzitti & Sullivan

    Providing behavioral health services in central Pennsylvania since 1983, now operating five different locations.

  • Tapestry
    Tapestry Tapestry

    Tapestry Eating Disorder Treatment Centers

  • Pyramid Family Behavioral Healthcare
    Pyramid Family Behavioral Healthcare Pyramid Family Behavioral Healthcare

    Serving the Atlanta, Georgia area adolescents and adults suffering from Mood Disorders.

  • October Road Inc
    October Road Inc October Road Inc

    Serving the Asheville, North Carolina area with high-quality mental health and substance abuse treatment since 2006.

  • Walden
    Walden Walden

    Offering treatment & support options in Southern Maryland for those struggling with addiction and mental health.