The Relationship Between Sleep Disorders and Drug Addiction

The human body requires adequate sleep to remain healthy. This drive to sleep well may be at the core of early drug abuse and stand in the way of recovery for many seeking drug addiction treatment.

Recent research has shown that the circadian rhythm (the natural body clock) is related to the disease of addiction.1 This internal clock regulates brain chemicals like dopamine, which trigger the reward centers within the brain, the same pathways which are lit up by addictive drugs.

Many of those in alcohol and drug rehab centers identify insomnia as a primary reason they drink habitually, and many prescription drugs are used to self-treat sleep disorders with individuals becoming unable to sleep without them.

Other stimulant substances directly interfere with sleep, including cocaine, methamphetamine, and Ritalin. Users may turn to alcohol or sedatives to “come down,” or may simply go without sleep until they develop hypersomnia, which causes them to fall asleep unintentionally.

Sleep Disorders During Recovery

During drug and alcohol treatment, sleep may be disrupted. Many of those who relapse quote insomnia as one of the causes, sometimes in as little as two days.2 Our need for sleep is as strong as hunger or thirst, and without adequate sleep the brain looks for chemical stimulation where it has found it before, causing cravings.

When the body returns to a healthy chemical balance, the internal sleep cycle will recover as well. We treat sleep disorders during inpatient rehab at Retreat Premier Addiction Treatment Centers as an important part of relapse prevention.