On average, 28 to 44 percent of adults get less than seven hours of sleep on a daily basis. When substance use disorder and/or obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) are added to the mix, the chances of sleep problems become five to ten times more likely. Unfortunately, poor sleep can compound symptoms and behaviors related to both disorders. The development of good sleep habits goes hand in hand with treatment and management of these disorders. And, those habits can easily come with practice and commitment. Substance Use and Sleep Sleep and addictive substances have a tenuous relationship. In some cases, poor sleep leads to substance use while in others substance use causes poor sleep. Poor sleep often leads to self-medicating with an addictive substance. Then, the addiction takes hold and becomes the primary concern over sleep issues. For others, the addictive substances themselves may lead to poor sleep. Alcohol, for example, causes the body to feel tired at first. But it keeps the brain in the lightest of sleep stages where night wakings are common. As the addiction continues, so does sleep deprivation. There are some addictive substances like stimulants that disrupt sleep by blocking or suppressing sleep hormones. Short- and long-term sleep issues can continue through and beyond treatment and recovery. Because, even though treatment begins, the original sleep problem and related behaviors may still remain, increasing the chances of relapse. The Complications of OCD OCD and related behaviors can disrupt the sleep cycle on a daily basis. When obsessive content flares up, sleep disruption is common. In addition, it can also become more difficult to differentiate between OCD content and real life threats as the brain’s emotional regulation abilities decrease with fatigue. OCD may also be accompanied by depression, which comes with a long list of its own symptoms and side effects. The most notable, of course, is poor sleep. Compulsive behaviors such as the need to check a door, mentally ruminate, or wash hands may push back bedtime until you’re getting less than seven hours of sleep. All of OCD’s potential issues contribute to a pattern of late bedtimes. And, anytime you get less than seven hours of sleep, emotional regulation, appetite control, and physical health decline. How to Get Better Sleep Healthy sleep-related habits and changes in personal behavior can help those with substance abuse disorders or OCD to get the rest they need. It may be an on-going effort, but it’s one that can help with the treatment and management of both disorders.
- Create a Distraction-Free Bedroom: A bedroom devoted solely to sleep helps the brain release sleep hormones appropriately. Try to keep the bedroom quiet, cool, and clutter-free. It should also include a comfortable mattress that supports your weight and addresses any pain points.
- Establish a Regular Bedtime and Wake Up Time: A consistent bed and wake up time help regulate the timing of the sleep cycle.
- Keep It Dark: Light, both natural and artificial, influences the circadian region of the brain, which controls how and when you sleep. At night, the bedroom should be completely dark to support the full release of sleep hormones. That also includes turning off any electronic devices. The light from their screens can interfere with sleep as can the stimulation of their content.
- Don’t Ignore Additional Medical Conditions: Substance use and OCD may be accompanied by other medical conditions. Whether those conditions are sleep-related or not, their treatment can affect your mental, emotional, and mental well-being and may have an impact on your sleep quality.
Conclusion Sleep, as a natural biological process, is an integral part of your health. It creates the foundation on which you can build effective treatment and management of a variety of disorders and issues. The best part is that more sleep immediately helps you feel stronger, happier, and more mentally aware. There may still be more work to do, but with sleep on your side, your body will be working with you rather than against you. Bio: Samantha Kent is a researcher for http://SleepHelp.org./ Her favorite writing topic is how getting enough sleep can improve your life. Currently residing in Boise, Idaho, she sleeps in a California King bed, often with a cat on her face.