Sometimes it can feel as though you will never be able to go to bed.
A Routine for Good Sleep
There are dirty dishes in the sink or a school project that your kid didn’t tell you about until the last minute. Maybe your boss sent you an after-hours email and clearly expects a response yet tonight. Or maybe you need the late night hours to work your side hustle in order to make ends meet.
And then, when you finally do fall into bed, things might not be that much better.
Your mind might still be racing with all of the things that remain on your never ending to-do list. You might be worried about your kids or your aging parents or just the general state of the world. You might find yourself replaying old, unpleasant memories and wishing you could go back and make changes. As your mind continues to churn, you find yourself tossing and turning—rather than sleeping—in your bed.
And then you get up in the morning, already tired before you have done a single thing, and go through the whole process all over again.
This is a bad cycle any way you look at it. But it can be even worse if you are an individual in recovery from a substance use disorder. That’s because maintaining your sobriety becomes more difficult when you don’t get the rest you need.
For the sake of your sobriety, you need to find a way to break the cycle that continuously leaves you overstressed and under rested. The question is: How?
Thinking Like a Child Can Help You Rest
When you were growing up, did you have a bedtime routine? Sure, it might not have been a routine of your own choosing, but there’s a good chance your parents developed a system to help you get ready for bed each night.
It might have gone something like this: First, at the same time each evening, you would pick out the pajamas you wanted to wear that night and change into them (maybe after a bath). Then you would use the bathroom and brush your teeth. Next, you’d climb into bed (making sure your stuffed friends were arranged just how you liked them) and listen to your mom or dad read you a story or sing you a song or say your prayers with you. Then, you’d get a kiss on the forehead, your parent would check the nightlight, and it would be time to drift off.
Establishing a Nighttime Routine Helps
If you had a routine like this, you probably didn’t realize how the regularity of it made it easier for you to fall asleep. But that bedtime routine did, in fact, help your body and brain get ready for sleep. Once those habits were established, it made it easier—for everyone involved—to wind down for the night.
The same is true for adults. Establishing a nighttime routine can help get your brain and body ready for rest. And your routine can look a lot like the one you may have followed as a youngster.
First, at the same time each evening, get ready for bed by powering down your screens (and picking your jammies for the night—perhaps after a relaxing bath). Then, use the bathroom, brush your teeth, and complete any other nighttime ablutions that help you relax. Then you might write in your gratitude journal, read a book, listen to some soft music, or do a mindfulness meditation exercise. Make sure your sleeping space is cool, dark (a nightlight is still okay), and uncluttered as you climb into bed, let go of the day, and drift off to sleep.
Try to Stick to the Routine—But Give Yourself Grace
Setting a routine like we’ve described might seem impossible given your busy schedule. But with some effort and intention, you can, in fact, reclaim your evenings and get the sleep you need. Doing so will be good for your overall physical and mental well-being—which in turn will provide a stronger foundation for your ongoing sobriety.
That said, there will be times when you have to—or want to—deviate from your routine. And that’s just fine. When those things happen, think of a change in routine as one of those nights you had to stay up late as a child to get schoolwork done or one of those delightful nights your parents let you stay up late for a special occasion. Just remember that your routine remains important to your health and recovery, so you should stick with it more often than not.
We Won’t Rest Until You Are on the Road to Recovery
At Bel Aire Recovery Center, we are committed to helping you get and stay sober. If you are struggling with a substance use disorder, don’t sleep on the opportunity to get the help you need. We offer evidence-based care grounded in expertise, experience, and compassion—and we will personalize a treatment plan specifically for your needs. When you are ready to give drugs or alcohol a rest and reclaim your life, we are here to help.