Withdrawal from opiates is a difficult, but necessary, step in addiction recovery. Regardless if someone is in recovery from heroin or prescription opiates, addictions can develop. Addressing these addictions is a complicated matter that involves detoxing one’s body, and experiencing the uncomfortable world of withdrawal. Withdrawal’s symptoms can affect someone on both a physical and mental health level, and their effects are felt for a long period of time. While knowing how long withdrawal will last can vary from person to person depending on many factors — such as frequency of use, time addicted, how much was used at one time, and biological and genetic components — it is common for withdrawal to continue in some capacity for weeks, or even longer. The list of withdrawal symptoms is extensive, with opiate withdrawal insomnia being a common and very difficult aspect to overcome for someone in addiction recovery from opiates.
Opiate Withdrawal Can Set in Fast
Withdrawal from opiates can be felt very quickly. While many people think of withdrawal as a part of cutting out their opioid usage cold turkey, this doesn’t necessarily have to be the case. Withdrawal can set in once someone stops using their addictive substance overall, or even if someone decides that they simply want to use less of it. Not only does the absence of opiates in this case trigger withdrawal symptoms to surface, but if the body doesn’t get the same level of opiates it has programmed itself to expect, it can also trigger withdrawal symptoms. Due to this, someone can begin experiencing withdrawal before they even realize it, which can drive them to crave using opioids even more intensely.
Common Symptoms of Opioid Withdrawal
Opioid withdrawal symptoms manifest differently in different people. However, there are some common symptoms that one should look for and expect when going through withdrawal. This can be unexplainable aches and pains, cramps, intense lethargy, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, anxiety, depression, irritability, mood swings, and insomnia. Each of these symptoms can be very intense and extremely uncomfortable, so having medical surveillance and mental and physical aid from professionals during this time is important in addressing each of the symptoms that someone may experience. However, opioid withdrawal insomnia can be one of the more devastating effects of withdrawal, creating a difficult situation for effective detox and recovery going forward. It is paramount to know strategies to ensure that someone knows how to sleep during withdrawal.
Withdrawal is a difficult time as the body is trying to reestablish a new homeostasis. With the absence of opioids from one’s system, the body’s previous rhythm enters a transitional phase on both a biological and emotional level. Medical treatment and behavioral therapy are necessary to deal with the difficult symptoms that consistently occur. Depending on the individual and their own situation, medications may also be necessary during this time in order to alleviate some of the discomfort involved with withdrawal.
What Is Insomnia?
Insomnia encapsulates a few different factors. First, people who are suffering from insomnia, or opioid withdrawal insomnia, simply getting to sleep in the first place can be extraordinarily difficult. However, it also involves a difficulty staying asleep even if someone had successfully managed to fall asleep, as well as sleep not being restful or rejuvenating for the person. Insomnia is something that needs to be addressed in order for someone to combat the rest of their symptoms, and recovery as a whole. Sleep is the only effective way for someone to combat fatigue, and lack of sleep can further destabilize someone’s emotional state. This emotional deterioration, compounded with the emotional toll and mood swings that withdrawal brings, can create a very difficult situation for the person in recovery, and can inhibit their ability to effectively address their other symptoms and effectively set their own roadmap for recovery.
How to Alleviate Insomnia and Strive for Restful Sleep
Treating insomnia is a difficult prospect, as it involves a lot of adjusting one’s own schedule, as well as addressing many elements of behavioral therapy. However, learning how to sleep during opioid withdrawal is possible, though it involves addressing someone’s environment, schedule, their methods of self-care, and their dietary choices.
Environmental Factors to Improve Sleep
Creating a New Sleep Schedule
Reestablishing someone’s circadian rhythm during opioid withdrawal can be difficult. Learning how to sleep during opiate withdrawal involves creating a new schedule that is employed consistently. Practicing bedtime routines can also program the body to become tired at a consistent time, creating a better chance that someone is able to keep a steady sleep schedule. First, it is important to establish a good time to get to bed depending on one’s own schedule, as well as a time that they should be waking up each day. For example, decide early on in recovery that you will be going to bed at 10:00 p.m. and waking up at 7:00 a.m., and keep that schedule from the beginning.
Just as keeping a consistent time for someone to go to bed can help program the body, the routines involved in getting ready for bed can also be curated to help someone induce sleep. Keeping bedtime routines can signal to the body that it is time to wind down and prepare for sleep, so a person is prepared to sleep before they even first lay down. Doing things like brushing teeth or attending to pets can be parts of this, but the routine is up to each person. Someone may make a habit of checking the locks around their house first, stretching out their body, or engaging in meditation or yoga before bed. All of these things can be ways to signal to one’s own body that it needs to prepare for sleep soon, rather than simply lying down in bed and expecting the body to immediately shut down.
Self-Care and Sleep
Self-care also incorporates a social component that needs to be satiated, as well. During one’s day, it is important to find a social outlet in which someone can raise their voice. Feelings of isolation or defeat can follow someone through any part of the day, times of rest included. If someone feels voiceless, or otherwise doesn’t have a social outlet, it can further the feelings of anxiety, depression, and affects someone’s overall mental health, which may already be in a fragile state due to insomnia, let alone opiate withdrawal insomnia.
Watch What You Eat
Someone’s diet also can greatly impact their ability to get a night of restful sleep. Someone who can’t sleep due to opiate withdrawal will want to keep a healthy diet. Not only is it important to watch what someone is eating, but also be mindful of when they are eating and drinking it. Eating unhealthy foods may cause someone further gastrointestinal issues, and lead to diarrhea or frequent bathroom use, causing someone to have to wake up frequently through the night and interrupting established sleep cycles. Also, drinking anything involving caffeine can cause someone to remain awake and further throw off any established circadian rhythms that someone has been working hard to establish.
Learning how to get sleep during opiate withdrawal is a complicated process that may require someone to change multiple parts of their schedule and involves effort throughout the entire day, not just when someone is wanting to get to sleep. All parts of withdrawal can be difficult to overcome, and getting professional help to deal with opiate withdrawal and opiate withdrawal insomnia is necessary in many cases. However, getting rest is paramount in order to address many of the other complicated aspects of addiction recovery. It is important to remember that experiencing withdrawal is part of a transitional phase. While it may seem like the pain will never end, the body will begin to normalize itself over time and more deeply ingratiate someone’s sleep schedule into their daily routine, setting the groundwork for restful sleep and effective recovery treatment for opiate withdrawal and beyond.