How A Mattress Can Help With Sleep Disturbances Caused By Addiction: A Bedding And Sleep Expert’s Advice

Addiction to many substances can create a host of problems, including creating damage to our sleep cycles, the ability to fall asleep, and preventing us from maintaining the sacred few hours we need to be in restorative REM (rapid eye movement) sleep. 

Understanding how addiction disrupts sleep is essential to making sure that a person stays healthy, since lack of sleep can create medical and psychiatric conditions which can hinder or destroy a person’s ability to become drug free. The ideal mattress can play an integral part in recovery and developing good sleep hygiene, too.

If you or a family member has ever struggled with drug addiction, you are probably familiar with these negative effects. Both drug use and struggles with withdrawal can make it difficult to fall asleep and maintaining sleep through the night.

Failure to be able to maintain a healthy sleep pattern doesn’t just come hand in hand with “street drugs” like cocaine or heroin, but also for alcohol, prescription medications, and even some over-the-counter drugs.

And the worst part is, that not only can drug use can result in sleep problems, so too can sleep issues lead to drug abuse. Health care providers prescribe millions of sleep medication prescriptions per year, and it is estimated that about 10-14% of the population uses some kind of sleep aid, whether prescribed or over the counter products.

In this article, we’re going to help you understand the intricate relationship between substance abuse and sleep, and what you can do to get the quality of sleep you need when you’re recovering from drug addiction. And that includes making sure you are sleeping on a mattress that provides proper comfort and support, as well as making the natural process of sleep induction (falling asleep) easier and consistent.

Defining Addiction

Generally, addiction is characterized as “a brain disease brought on by chronic drug use that interferes with and makes changes to brain circuitry and chemistry, and these changes lead to compulsive drug-using behaviors.”

Sadly, these changes in our brain chemistry and circuitry do much more than lead to compulsive drug use; they can also lead to difficulty sleeping, which can create a cascading effect on the body and the brain. Substance abuse can cause both acute (short-term) and chronic (long-term) sleep issues. For some, this can progress and even result in sleep disorders like insomnia and sleep apnea.

But Exactly How Do Drugs Impact Our Sleep?

Generally, taking drugs leads to chemical changes in the body that can have a direct impact on our circadian rhythm, which is the biological clock responsible for our sleep/wake cycle.

This relationship is more than a bit complicated, largely due to the wide variety of drugs available today. To understand what’s going on in relation to drug abuse and sleep, you need to look at each category of drugs individually.

Stimulants: Cocaine and Amphetamines:

If you’ve ever had coffee too close to bedtime, you certainly know how stimulants can disrupt sleep. This category of drugs, which includes things like cocaine and amphetamines, increases our level of alertness. When taken too close to bedtime, they can make it incredibly difficult to fall asleep and directly affect the brain chemicals responsible for mood, energy, learning, and more.

Cocaine, as an example, increases energy and euphoria due to a short-term increase in the levels of dopamine circulating in the brain. This sudden jolt in dopamine levels can skyrocket your level of alertness, overriding natural daylight rhythms, and can directly interfere with sleep, and chronic use will lead to a reduction in REM sleep, leading to daytime fatigue and memory difficulties.

When you stop using cocaine, disrupted sleep can last for months after drug cessation, with the body’s neurotransmitter levels and circadian rhythm taking time to rebalance. When people begin to discontinue using amphetamines or cocaine, it is often to stop and take a look at the mattress they are using. 

Withdrawal can be a difficult and acute process, and having a mattress that offers enhanced support and comfort, such as a softer memory foam mattress that is effective at distributing weight, can help. Sleep will often return to normal faster if a persons sleep surface is optimized for the individual. 

If a person is of typical height and weight, a memory foam mattress like The Puffy Mattress might be an effective choice, whereas for larger folks, a firmer hybrid mattress with coils such as The Dreamcloud mattress is often a good way to reinvent your sleep surface prior to heading into a clinical withdrawal program or even doing it on your own.

Amphetamines, which are found in many prescription drugs but also in illegal street drugs such as methamphetamine (crystal meth), are also intensely powerful stimulants that can destroy the quality of sleep, putting your brain and body in danger. With a half-life of up to 16 hours, a large quantity of the drug can still be in your body when you head for bed, even if you had taken it early in the day. 

Further, amphetamines disrupt the central nervous system, keeping people stimulated and fully awake following use, even for days, and causing severe sleep disruptions during withdrawal. Just like cocaine, amphetamines disrupt and modify the action of neurotransmitters that can cause severe sleep problems.

Depressants and Sedatives: Alcohol and Marijuana

Drinking alcohol and smoking weed can provide a false sense of security that after their use, you will be able to sleep better.. Unfortunately, plenty of studies reveal that both short-term and long-term intake of marijuana and alcohol can wreak havoc your sleep cycle, reducing REM sleep, depressing hormones essential for proper sleep cycling, disruption of circadian rhythm and responses to lightness and darkness, and other problems.

Alcohol is known to help you quickly doze off, especially after consuming large amounts, but the quality of sleep that you achieve after binge drinking tends to be less productive than when you avoid alcohol. Additionally, alcohol use can increase incidences of sleep apnea, snoring, and nightmares.

As for marijuana use, short-term use might help with falling and staying asleep, and medical marijuana clinics and groceries often sell marijuana edibles as sleep and anxiety reducing aids, but research suggest that long term use has a negative impact on our natural boy rhythms and sleep cycles. 

People who use cannabis five times or more per week for 90 days or more tend to take longer to fall asleep, sleep less during the course of the night, and experience less restorative REM sleep- that is slow wave sleep, than people who don’t use cannabis or use it less frequently.

Hallucinogens: MDMA  (Ecstacy) and LSD (Acid)

Hallucinogens like MDMA (ecstasy) and LSD (acid) can disrupt sleep in a similar way as stimulants, as these drugs too can enhance feelings of alertness. Additionally, many hallucinogens alter perception partly through their interference with the neurotransmitter serotonin, which is important for regulating sleep.

Opioids: Heroin and Pain Relievers

Unfortunately, opioid abuse is rampant, largely thanks to the widespread and liberal  prescription use of drugs like morphine, oxycodone, codeine, and hydrocodone.

Many opioid addicts are people that were prescribed painkillers for legitimate therapeutic use, and then subsequently became involved with heroin, another opioid when their prescriptions expire or their providers will no longer write prescriptions for them.

Even worse, fentanyl laced opioids can be fatal, and heroin addiction quickly becomes a high wire act, with every use becoming a game of chance. While these drugs can be particularly effective at treating pain, they have a high potential for addiction and abuse, and this can result in trouble sleeping. 

Withdrawal programs again warrant redesigning and rethinking your sleep hygiene program, improving it with a therapeutic mattress, perhaps a weighted blanket to calm and soothe, and reinventing your use of blue light emitting computers, phones and pads, as you go through the withdrawal process.

Opioid use results in poor sleep quality, with less REM sleep and restorative and productive sleep. What’s more, opioid withdrawal is established as making sleep exceptionally difficult.

How Sleep Deprivation Leads to Drug Abuse

While many people know that drug abuse can lead to sleep deprivation, fewer realize that sleep deprivation can result in drug addiction and abuse. There are two primary ways that this can happen:

  1. USING DRUGS FOR SLEEP
    People who struggle with insomnia or other sleep disorders will sometimes use drugs like alcohol and marijuana to help them fall asleep. Not only will these drugs not help sleep quality in the long-run, but this use can lead to substance abuse and addiction. Additionally, both prescription and over-the-counter sleep medications can lead to addiction and abuse as well. Drugs like Ambien (zolpidem) and benzodiazepines like Valium, Xanax, and Clonazapam interfere with sleeping mechanisms and sleep cycling schedules. 

2. LOW INHIBITIONS

When people don’t get enough sleep, their willpower and self-control are lower than when they do. This can lead to relapses for people with drug addictions.

Why Sleep is Important in Addiction Recovery

Overcoming substance abuse requires a period of drug detox, where you eventually eliminate drug use completely. This period is extremely challenging since withdrawal symptoms can be challenging. 

Since one of the symptoms of withdrawal is trouble sleeping, evaluating and selecting a good mattress is critical to recovery. As insufficient sleep is sometimes correlated with poor self-control, it’s important for recovering addicts to do what they can to get enough sleep and reduce the chances of a relapse. What’s more, sleep helps the body and mind to recover, and physical and spiritual healing are an important part of the recovery process.

Because all substance abuse disorders are tied to disrupted sleep, learning ways to enhance your ability to sleep can help you overcome drug addictions.

Tips for Getting Quality Sleep During Addiction Recovery

There are many things that you can do to help your body develop a healthy sleep schedule. While some of these tips can help immediately, remember that you have to be extremely patient, and you will need to put in intense amounts of effort before results are noticed.

Find And Establish A Set Sleep Schedule And Don’t Deviate

Human’s internal clocks are tied to the natural light/dark cycle, meaning that we are meant to sleep during dark hours and be awake during light hours. Because of this, it’s important to align your sleep hours with natural darkness whenever possible.

Additionally, you don’t want to be changing when you sleep from one night to the next. While it’s normal to extend ourselves too much over the week and “catch up” on sleep during the weekends, that’s not how our biological clocks work. It’s best to go to bed and wake up at the same time – every night of the week, including weekends.

You should attempt to setup a sleep schedule so that you are getting at least 7 and 9 hours of uninterrupted sleep, so that you’re getting the best results. If you are doing a detoxification program, getting enough sleep is essential so that your body can get rid of waste products and repair cells.  A good time frame that seems to work with people in recovery seems to be to establish a bedtime routine of sleeping from 9 PM to 6 AM every night.

Reduce Light Exposure Before You Retire

Humans are sensitive to light, with bright lights (particularly blue lights like those found in electronics and fluorescent light bulbs) keeping us alert and making it difficult for us to fall asleep. If you have too much light exposure before bedtime, your internal clock is unlikely to function properly.

The best thing to do? Avoid electronics at least 2 hours before bed. If you are having trouble doing that, use blue light blocking glasses that you can put on once its dark outside to limit your blue light exposure.

Exercise daily, but not right before bedtime.

Moderate exercise can help you get a good night’s sleep, but when done in the wind-down period three hours or sooner before bedtime, it can actually make it far more difficult to fall asleep. Avoid exercise up to five hours ahead of  bedtime if you struggled with sleep issues prior to any withdrawal program.

Avoid distractions during sleeping hours.

Setting up a Z-Cave so that you create the perfect environment is critical for recovery. Besides getting a mattress that will create calm and relaxation for your body, make sure you put your phone in airplane mode or do-not-disturb, sleeping somewhere that you won’t be disturbed by other people wandering in and out, and avoid having your pets and children sleep in your bedroom. Use blackout shades if light disturbs your sleep cycle.

Take a warm bath or shower one hour before bedtime.

Taking a warm bath or shower about one hour before hitting your bed can act as a very effective sleep aid, helping ease your body ease into sleep mode. This largely due to the increase in body temperature that occurs in the bath and the subsequent drop in temperature that happens when you step out. This mimics a natural decrease in body temperature that occurs right before bedtime when your circadian rhythm is working properly.