“I’ll sleep when I’m dead.”
You have probably heard someone deliver that line—or maybe you have delivered it yourself. It seems to perfectly encapsulate our extremely busy lives. We are far too busy to sleep, so we are just going to have to put it off. We figure our to-do list will suddenly be clear after death, which makes that the perfect time to get some shuteye.
The whole idea is pretty morbid if you think about it. It is also a terrible way to proceed if you are in recovery from a substance use disorder, trying to improve your overall mental (and physical) health or both. Truthfully, in order to function at a high level while also supporting your sobriety, it is a smart move to put sleep right at the top of your to-do list.
Let’s look at ways to ensure you get the sleep you need while you are still very much alive.
Bedtimes Are Not Just for Children
We put the most important appointments and events of our day in our planners, right? That is how we make sure we are where we need to be when we need to be there and that we get things done in a timely manner. We don’t treat our appointments as moving targets because that isn’t good for anyone.
Treating bedtime as a moving target isn’t good for anyone either. One of the most effective ways to ensure you get the rest you need to be at your best is to establish a regular bedtime—and a regular time to wake up, too. Doing so makes it less likely that you will end up robbing yourself of needed sleep while also training your brain and body to wind down and wake up in a recurring, regular rhythm.
You might be thinking that bedtimes are childish. We suggest shifting your thinking just a bit. Why do we set a bedtime for a child? To help them come to the end of their day with calmness and drift off to sleep easily. We want that for our kids—and we should want it for ourselves, too.
The Bedtime Routine is a Key Contributor to Quality Sleep
Just as a bedtime isn’t just for kids, neither is a bedtime routine.
For kids, the bedtime routine may involve putting on pajamas, brushing their teeth, saying goodnight to everyone, listening to a story, and getting a kiss on the forehead as they settle into sleep. The regular routine makes going to sleep easier.
And that’s true for adults, too. Powering down our various screens, lowering the lighting, listening to some relaxing music, doing some light stretching, some journaling, or some mindfulness exercises, or just setting aside some time to read something you enjoy—any combination of these things and more (for example, you really should brush your teeth) can come together to form your nighttime routine and help you get ready to drift off to dreamland.
Daytime Choices and Nighttime Results
When you make a commitment to getting more and better sleep, you will probably start to notice the ways in which decisions you make during the day play out when it is time for bed. For example, if you have a caffeinated beverage too late in the day (how late is too late will vary from person to person), you may find it harder to get to sleep. If you commit to getting some exercise each day, you may find that it is easier to get to sleep. And if you turn off notifications from your work-related channels of communication to protect your quiet time, you may find you go to bed more relaxed and less likely to worry about work when you should be sleeping.
Making positive choices while the sun is up will lead to better results when the moon is on the rise. That, in turn, will support your sobriety and your mental well-being.
When You Need Help, You Won’t Catch Us Sleeping
At Wooded Glen Recovery Center in Indiana, we are ready and able to assist you in overcoming a substance use disorder. We can also address co-occurring mental health disorders that may be tangled up with the issues related to your struggles with drugs or alcohol. Sobriety and mental health go hand in hand, so we work hard to support you in both areas with personalized, evidence-based, compassionate care. You can be confident you won’t catch us napping when you come to us for the help you need to reclaim your sobriety and your mental health.