If you’re 23 days in to sobriety, there’s a good chance you’re having some issues sleeping. Before I go any further I’ll say that this is normal, and it wont last forever. As someone who would regularly head to bed somewhere between decently buzzed and completely hammered, I had issues falling asleep in those first few weeks.
It was especially annoying because one of the reasons I stopped drinking in the first place, was that I was sick of waking up feeling like garbage. I recall staring at the ceiling those first few nights I remember wondering what I might want more; to fall asleep, or to have a beer. When I did finally fall asleep, I began having extremely vivid dreams that felt like they lasted hours.
Id wake up in a cold sweat only to realize that only 2 or 3 hours had passed, fall back asleep and repeat two or three times until it was time to get up and get ready for the day. It was exhausting to say the least, although I was happy I was getting some decent sleep for once.
Waking up in the night isn’t good for sleep, but the fact that I was having vivid dreams meant that I was getting the type of REM sleep that helps your body repair itself. According to sources online, alcohol can help you fall asleep (and how) but it messes with your deep sleep cycle, and thats why you can sleep from 3am to noon and still feel like you could sleep another 5 hours.
Without REM sleep, you cant have dreams. This makes sense, because I dont recall dreaming when I was drinking. Additionally, chemicals in your brains are released during REM sleep that cause your body to become paralyzed for the duration of the REM period. Im no sleep doctor but If you’ve ever gotten out of your bed while drunk this could be one of the reasons. (To lighten the mood, see this Yahoo! Answers thread)
So if you’re recently dry and you’re having a bad time sleeping consider a few things:
- This wont last forever: You’re going to have to literally sweat this one out, and I think its worth it.
- Drink lots of water: It may cause you to make a few trips per evening to the bathroom, but your body is ridding itself of toxins and it needs water to help flush it out.
- Keep a journal of your dreams: You’ll be blown away by all the crazy stuff you dream about. Keep some paper and a pen next to your bed and jot down your dreams as best as you can remember them. Read it in the morning and be entertained by your terrible handwriting, and fantastic dreams.
- Avoid caffeine: Try not to drink coffee, cola or caffeinated teas after 12pm. If you can avoid it all together, that’s great, if not try and cut back. Now that youre not getting hosed on week nights you’re less likely to need a giant coffee with 4 shots of espresso.
- Drink herbal tea: I love Sleepytime tea from Presidents Choice. Its got natural sleep-aids that will help you fall asleep quicker, and unlike some herbal tea it doesn’t taste like butts.
- Talk to your doctor: if you’re still having issues falling asleep and your night sweats are turning into withdrawal symptoms then you should go to a doctor immediately. Withdrawal can be a very serious issue and result in death! A doctor can help, and prescribe something that will help you sleep that wont mess with your recovery.
I hope some of this helps, and Ill finish this with a quick pep-talk:
If youve made it this far, I truly believe that you can live the rest of your life without alcohol. The first 3 weeks can be the hardest, even if youre only a casual drinker. If youre reading this, and on day 23 or later and youre thinking about giving up; PLEASE DONT.
It may not feel like it, but youve come farther than most and you owe it to yourself to get that 1 month (at the very least). Even if your experiment with sobriety was only meant to last 31 days, you need to prove to yourself that you can control yourself for 8 more days. If not, youre just proving to yourself that you do infact have a problem.
On the 31st day you can reflect, and really meditate on your drinking and decide whats right for you, but again; if you have made it this far, a lot of the hard work is already done.
Good luck, stay strong, take it one day at a time!
Thanks for reading this post. Check out the first post, and the About Page for more info on what this is all about. My advice and anecdotes are to be taken as entertainment and for inspirational purposes (definition: I am NOT a doctor or addictions professional). If you think you have a serious drinking problem please visit a doctor. If you’re worried about telling a family doctor, you can always try a walk-in clinic or try this resource for help with substance abuse in Canada.
You should also check out the great Stop Drinking Subreddit (I’m not affiliated with it, I just find it to be a great resource).