Insomnia may lead to an increase in the risk of relapse for people in the early phases of recovery from addiction, suggests a new report. The researchers say the incidence of insomnia in early recovery may be five times higher than in the general population.
“Treating sleep disturbance in early recovery may have considerable impact on maintenance of sobriety and quality of life,” study co-author Dr. Nicholas Rosenlicht of the University of San Francisco said in a news release.
The researchers found insomnia may be linked with a higher risk of alcohol-related problems and relapse. In addition, previous research suggests people with sleep problems are more likely to be at risk of developing addiction, the article notes. Some people with alcohol use disorders drink in the evening to help them sleep, even though alcohol causes sleep disruption.
It is unclear whether treating insomnia can reduce a person’s risk of relapse, they note. Some studies have found using insomnia medications during recovery can reduce the rate of relapse. The researchers caution doctors about prescribing insomnia medications to recovering patients, because they may be at increased risk of misuse, abuse or addiction to sleep medications. They may also be at risk of “rebound insomnia” after they stop taking the medication.
Instead of prescribing insomnia medications, doctors can have patients keep a daily sleep diary; ask them to fill out a questionnaire about their insomnia and progress during treatment; and educate patients on the best ways to promote good sleep and the effects of substances on sleep.
Behavioral approaches to sleep problems include limiting a person’s time in bed to only that time when they are sleeping, and identifying and correcting inappropriate thoughts and beliefs that may contribute to insomnia.