Addiction and insomnia

Sleepless nights and the grip of addiction are two struggles that often go hand in hand. When insomnia and addiction collide, the result can be a vicious cycle that leaves individuals feeling trapped in a never-ending loop of exhaustion and substance abuse. However, by understanding the connection between these two conditions and the impact they have on each other, it is possible to address both conditions simultaneously and achieve a successful recovery.


Insomnia and addiction - woman with insomnia

What is insomnia?

Insomnia is a sleep disorder characterised by difficulty falling asleep, staying asleep, or experiencing poor-quality sleep. As a result, people with insomnia may experience daytime fatigue, low energy levels, mood disturbances, and difficulties with concentration and memory.

Insomnia can be classified into two main types: primary and secondary.

Primary insomnia refers to sleep problems not directly caused by another underlying condition or medical issue. It is often related to stress, anxiety, depression, lifestyle choices, or poor sleep habits. Secondary insomnia, on the other hand, is caused by an underlying medical, psychiatric, or environmental condition. It can be associated with chronic pain, respiratory disorders, gastrointestinal problems, hormonal imbalances, medication side effects, substance abuse, or sleep conditions like sleep apnea.

Some common signs or symptoms that may indicate you have insomnia:

  • Difficulty falling asleep at night
  • Trouble staying asleep, waking up frequently during the night
  • Waking up too early in the morning and struggling to go back to sleep
  • Feeling tired or not refreshed upon waking up
  • Daytime fatigue, sleepiness, or low energy levels
  • Difficulty concentrating or focusing on tasks
  • Mood disturbances, such as irritability, anxiety, or depression
  • Increased errors or accidents due to lack of concentration
  • Hyperarousal or heightened awareness at night, making it hard to relax and fall asleep
  • Overthinking or racing thoughts that prevent you from falling asleep
  • Dependence on sleep aids or medications to fall asleep
  • Chronic worry or anticipation of sleep problems
  • Impaired performance at work, school, or daily activities due to lack of sleep
  • Inability to nap or take daytime restorative sleep
  • Increased reliance on certain stimulants to stay awake during the day

It’s important to note that experiencing occasional sleep difficulties or a few of these signs does not necessarily mean you have insomnia. However, if you consistently experience these symptoms and they interfere with your daily functioning or quality of life, it is advisable to consult with a healthcare professional for a proper diagnosis and guidance.

Are people with insomnia more likely to suffer from addiction?

The relationship between the two conditions is complex and multifaceted, but people with insomnia may be more susceptible to developing addiction or substance abuse issues for several reasons.

Here are some factors that contribute to the increased risk:

  • Self-medication: Insomnia often leads individuals to seek relief for their sleep difficulties. They may turn to substances like alcohol, sleeping pills, or illicit drugs to induce sleep or alleviate anxiety. Using these substances can provide temporary relief, but it can develop into a harmful cycle of self-medication that turns into addiction.
  • Altered brain chemistry: Sleep deprivation and insomnia can disrupt the balance of neurotransmitters in the brain, such as dopamine and serotonin. These imbalances can contribute to mood disorders, such as depression or anxiety, commonly associated with addiction as people turn to substances seeking temporary relief.
  • Coping mechanisms: Chronic insomnia can be emotionally and mentally draining, leading individuals to develop maladaptive coping mechanisms. Substance use may serve as a way to escape or cope with the distress and frustration caused by the sleep disorder.
  • Sleep-affecting substances: Certain substances directly interfere with sleep architecture and exacerbate sleep problems. For example, stimulants like caffeine or nicotine disrupt sleep quality and make it harder to fall asleep. Individuals with insomnia may consume these substances in higher quantities to combat their sleep difficulties, further complicating their sleep patterns and potentially leading to addiction.
  • Shared risk factors: Insomnia and addiction often share common risk factors. Chronic stress, anxiety, depression, genetic predisposition, and trauma can contribute to both conditions. These shared risk factors can create a vulnerability for both insomnia and addiction, increasing the likelihood of co-occurring disorders.

While there is a correlation between insomnia and addiction, it is important to note that not everyone with insomnia will develop addiction, and not all individuals with addiction have insomnia. If you or someone you know is struggling with insomnia and addiction, seeking comprehensive guidance from health experts is important.


Insomnia and addiction - woman with insomnia 2


Addiction and insomnia treatment at Oasis Bradford

At Oasis Bradford, we prioritise the well-being of our inpatient clients by conducting a thorough assessment of their physical and mental health upon admission. Recognising the significance of dual-diagnosis cases involving insomnia and addiction, we ensure that any previous diagnosis of insomnia is integrated into your rehab programme. However, your doctor must adequately address and manage your insomnia before embarking on the addiction recovery process.

Our skilled team at Oasis Bradford understands the unique challenges associated with dual diagnosis, enabling you to detach from the daily burdens of life and fully focus on your recovery.

We offer a range of therapies specifically designed to address your addiction despite dealing with insomnia, including:

  • Dialectical behavioural therapy (DBT): This therapy identifies and modifies the thoughts and behaviours contributing to addiction and insomnia. By promoting healthier sleep patterns and enhancing sleep quality, DBT can effectively help conquer your addiction.
  • Detoxification (Detox): Under the supervision of medical professionals, our detox program allows your body to eliminate harmful substances safely. Throughout the process, our team ensures your safety and well-being.
  • Holistic treatments: Our addiction treatment programme incorporates holistic activities such as yoga, meditation, art therapy, and music therapy. These activities promote relaxation, reduce anxiety, and foster better sleep patterns, benefiting addiction recovery.
  • Group therapy: In a secure and nurturing environment, group therapy allows individuals to share their addiction experiences openly. Through interactions with others who have faced similar challenges, participants gain insights and support for their recovery journey.
  • Family therapy: Our family therapy sessions focus on improving familial relationships and establishing a solid support network during emotional hardships. This form of therapy emphasises enhancing communication, setting healthy boundaries, and addressing any issues related to addictive behaviours.

At Oasis Bradford, we are committed to providing compassionate and effective care for individuals dealing with addiction whilst also grappling with insomnia. Throughout your rehab treatment, our experienced professionals will be by your side, offering unwavering support, encouragement, and guidance at every step.

Taking the next step

At Oasis Bradford, we understand individuals’ challenges when struggling with insomnia and addiction. Our dedicated team is here to provide the necessary support and guidance when you are ready to take the courageous step to overcome your addiction. If you are determined to initiate your treatment and embrace a life of recovery, don’t hesitate to contact us today.