At the beginning of your sobriety journey sleep can be erratic and hard to come by. You'll be lying in bed wide awake at 3 am in the morning and on the point of crashing out at 3 p.m!
Sleep is a miracle cure, it is the remedy for tired minds, tired bodies and is the ultimate recuperative treatment. It can take some people up to three months to be able to sleep properly throughout the night without disturbance ater quitting drinking, but the technicolour blockbuster dreams are so worth it.
Here are my best tips for getting a better sleep.
1. Understand that the exhaustion you feel is your body finally getting the chance to start repairing a little of the damage you've been self-inflicting over many years. Sleep gained by passing out is not sleeping at all, at least not a recovery sleep, so you have a lot of catching up to do, and this is your bodies way of slowing you right down so that it can get to work. If your schedule allows it, take a nap for an hour in the afternoon when your batteries have run out for a temporary recharge.
2. Go to bed and get up at the same time each day. Getting into a routine is hard to do at the outset of your recovery program because of the hit and miss nature of sleep but establishing a method will help you combat insomnia.
3. Don't lie awake staring at the ceiling. If you can't sleep, get up and read a book for a bit in low light. Try not to watch TV as the light activates and excites the brain. In the early days, I used to get up and go for a walk rather than lie in bed not sleeping and have the mind working overtime on problems I didn't even know existed.
4. Read real books, not Kindle books. The Kindle has revolutionised book reading and made them easily accessible, but the light they give off can interfere with your sleep. Try to read real books instead and keep the light from TV, Phones and other screens to a minimum.
5. Get some exercise! Exercising during the day can help to relieve tension and make you naturally tired.
6. Stop drinking Caffeine at midday. Caffeine is proven to act as a stimulant, and the effects can take several hours to wear off. If you stop drinking coffee and tea at midday then by bedtime all that caffeine will be out of your system.
7. Drink all your water early in the day. You should be drinking around four pints of water every day to counteract the dehydration effects you have stored up over many years. However, you don't want to keep getting up every hour at night to pee. Drink all your water early in the day so that it has a chance to flush through your system
9. Relax before bedtime. Getting into a routine where you practise Yoga and meditate before bed can get your mind ready for sleep. I like to light several candles and have a table lamp on for light in the evening.
10. Invest in some headband headphones. Listening to rain sounds, sleep meditations or someone reading a book can help to get you to sleep, but standard wireless headphones are too bulky to wear in bed. Get some fabric headband headphones so that you can drift off listening to music or guided meditation.