Targeted medication can not only ease withdrawal and make you feel more comfortable but also prevent life-threatening consequences. However, as you begin to consume alcohol more often, your body begins to compensate in the other direction. Your central nervous system becomes more excitable, counteracting the effects alcoholic insomnia of alcohol on your insomnia. This shift in the central nervous system is largely responsible for the development of tolerance and is the main driver of alcohol withdrawal symptoms. These effects often lead people to use alcohol as a sleep aid, as the short-term effects can promote relaxation and help you fall asleep quicker.

Fortunately, insomnia usually diminishes over time; however, there are many coping skills one can practice to improve their sleep by implementing healthy sleep habits. The higher risk of insomnia and somnolence with naltrexone compared to placebo is further confirmed by the results shown in the meta-analyses (Figures 5A and B, respectively). In fact, between 35% and 70% of individuals who use alcohol have insomnia.3 It may seem surprising, considering that alcohol is a depressant, yet alcohol is known to interfere with fundamental aspects of sleep quality. Insomnia is very common in alcohol recovery and is a robust predictor of relapse.

Struggling With Insomnia During Detox?

Treatment providers can connect you with programs that provide the tools to help you get and stay sober. Someone looking for treatment for their insomnia without taking their alcohol use into consideration could make the problem worse. If they aren’t forthcoming about their dependency or possible addiction, then a doctor can’t prescribe proper treatment. This may mean they are given medication that should not be mixed with alcohol or are given poor treatment because they have given insufficient information. Additionally, if your body moves during the day, it will need to rest at night.

treatment for alcoholic insomnia

Drinking to fall asleep can cause or worsen some health issues over time. These include breathing issues like sleep apnea, which is linked to drinking. While Ambien has a relatively low potential for abuse in nonalcoholic patients, alcoholic patients are at a higher risk of developing dependence and addiction.

Signs and Symptoms Of Insomnia

Following this initial phase, gabapentin, valproate, and placebo were continued for 4 weeks. However, gabapentin was administered in three divided doses over the day rather than as a single dose at night. A number of effective pharmacological and nonpharmacological treatment options exist to manage insomnia. Most have been evaluated in non-alcoholic insomnia patients, so their efficacy in alcoholic patients is uncertain. Moreover, treating insomnia in alcoholic patients requires special consideration because of the abuse history and potential for overdose with some pharmacological agents when mixed with alcohol. Completing an alcohol detox often lessens your trouble sleeping without alcohol.

Choosing a drug that has no detrimental effect or could even improve sleep during abstinence from alcohol may play an important role in the recovery process. Furthermore, improving the quality of sleep may also support other psychosocial interventions, such as cognitive behavioral therapy, for higher therapeutic success. This systematic review with meta-analysis aims to determine how pharmacotherapy for AUD impacts the quality of sleep.


Patients with insomnia that persisted after a week of abstinence, in the absence of withdrawal symptoms, received a single-blind placebo run in for a week. During this period, the subjects were instructed to maintain their usual sleep schedule, and at the end of the week, an initial PSG was performed. Subsequently, they were randomized to either gabapentin or placebo for 6 weeks. A follow-up visit was scheduled at 12 weeks (6 weeks following the discontinuation of the medication) (Brower et al., 2008). However, people suffering from alcoholism have an increased risk of abusing sedative-hypnotic drugs, and most addiction treatment experts do not recommend sedative-hypnotic drugs for clients with drinking problems.

treatment for alcoholic insomnia

In 2018, Corey had the opportunity to partner with Amethyst and USR to open the Freedom Center in his hometown of Gaithersburg, MD. Throughout his tenure at The Freedom Center, he has strategically built relationships with referring providers, hospitals, and local government leaders. Corey has continued to grow the Freedom Center brand, educate his local community on substance use disorders, and become a pillar of the local recovery community. Corey’s mission is to provide quality behavioral health care to local community members who reach out in need, regardless of their financial situation. Outside of The Freedom Center, Corey enjoys playing golf, hiking, and, most of all, being the best father to his three young boys. Being born and raised in Gaithersburg, Maryland, it was always a dream for James to start a program where he could begin his own recovery journey.

Journal of Affective Disorders

At 6-month follow-up, 25% (26 of 103) had persistent insomnia at 6 months, despite abstinence for the previous 3 months. Unfortunately, this study did not determine the etiology of insomnia, which could have included co-occurring disorders as well as the long-term effects of alcohol on brain regions regulating sleep. Nevertheless, clinicians may expect approximately one-quarter of their alcohol-dependent patients to have persistent insomnia despite abstinence from alcohol. In fact, Perney and Lehert (2018) analyzed the raw sleep data collected from those trials. Finally, due to the high level of methodological heterogeneity across the included studies, we estimated that it was not appropriate to pool the data in a meta-analysis. Acamprosate, by reducing glutamatergic neurotransmission (Mason and Crean, 2007; Frye et al., 2016), supports abstinence, and this might explain the reduced insomnia and the trend to reduce REM sleep (Jones, 2019).

  • Among those who also met DSM-IV criteria for alcohol withdrawal (American Psychiatric Association, 2000) the rate was 50%.
  • This sleep cycle disruption is what causes the person to feel tired and “fuzzy” the next day and can lead to further sleep issues, such as insomnia or alcohol addiction over time.
  • However, there are also concerns about the possible abuse potential of gabapentin which could limit its use in this patient population (Markowitz et al., 1997).

It is, rather, the symptoms of withdrawal taking a physical and mental toll on the person quitting that pushes them back. Insomnia is a very treatable disorder and taking the time to treat it can mean the difference between recovery and relapse. With the proper support, you can focus on developing healthy sleep habits and prepare for an addiction treatment program. Good sleep hygiene is vital to the healing process and an improved quality of life.

While insomnia can lead to a dependency on alcohol, the opposite, like many mental disorders, is also true. In general, the use of alcohol can prevent someone from falling into deep sleep, which is crucial to maintaining normal brain function, physical health, and emotional well-being. The toll this takes could already cause strain on one’s life and relationships.

Also, use caution regarding how many liquids you drink prior to bedtime, as this is important in order to prevent having to wake up to use the restroom during the middle of the night. While napping during the day reduces feelings of drowsiness, it can also keep you from falling asleep at night. On PSG measures, only the SL improved significantly over the course of the trial. The authors further divided the groups into those whose PLMS improved (7 out of 11) and those whose PLMS worsened (4 out of 11). On subgroup analyses, the TST of patients with a decrease in PLMS was significantly improved with treatment. The authors unfortunately do not comment on the changes in the sleep items at further follow-up visits.


Insomnia is a very common withdrawal symptom among individuals who are in detox for alcohol or other drug abuse, as their mind, body, and spirit are slowly readjusting to not having mood-altering chemicals in their bodies. Sleep problems can persist for weeks, months, or even years, which can lead to increased anxiety, tiredness, poor concentration, low enthusiasm, and irritability. More concerning is that persistent insomnia, especially if left untreated, can interfere with one’s recovery and contribute to relapse.

  • Up to 40% of the general population experiences insomnia, while as many as 72% of people with an alcohol use disorder may have the condition.
  • Although it is assumed that treatment for insomnia will help prevent relapse, this has not been firmly established.
  • Studies are needed to compare the efficacy of pharmacological and nonpharmacological interventions for sleep in early alcohol recovery, both alone and in combination.
  • In this study, CBT sessions were not applied; however, all subjects were provided with a sleep hygiene form during the medication visit as a helping tool to be used during the study51.
  • Sleep disorders like insomnia can co-occur with alcohol abuse, and treating insomnia can improve a person’s sleep quality while in recovery.
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