Sleep eludes those of us in recovery.
Although I wasn’t easy on myself in certain aspects of recovery – I beat myself up for allowing alcohol billboards to distract me for more than 2 seconds – I decided from the beginning that I would pay attention to my body if it asked for sleep.
I allowed myself to take naps, and to sleep in if I could do so without missing something important.
On days when I planned to do important but not urgent things, getting an extra hour or two of sleep in the morning allowed me to get everything done with natural energy – rather than getting up extra early and irritably plowing through those tasks.
Here are 10 additional reasons to listen to your natural desire for sleep. Some extra shuteye can help you:
- Improve your mood. Even a short nap bathes your brain in serotonin, which is a neurotransmitter whose depletion is associated with depression.
- Rewire your brain. Sleep is a crucial process in neural plasticity, which is the “rewiring” of the brain following trauma that is so crucial during recovery from addiction.
- Control your weight. When you’re sleep deprived, you likely have insufficient levels of a hormone called leptin, causing you to feel hungrier and crave higher calorie foods.
- Boost your memory. Since the brain consolidates memories during sleep, getting more sleep helps you retain information and feel more clear-headed.
- Build your physique. Protein synthesis inside your muscles occur requires sleep – chances are, you build more muscle in your bed than in the gym.
- Reduce inflammation. People who get more sleep are less likely to suffer from inflammatory conditions that increase the risk of developing more serious diseases like cancer.
- Reduce your risk of heart disease. Research has linked more sleep with a lower chance of heart disease, high blood pressure, and diabetes.
- Maintain hormonal balance. In addition to helping you maintain healthy leptin levels, sleep is necessary to maintain testosterone levels in men and for the secretion of growth hormone to help your recover from tough workouts.
- Increase your pain threshold. Well-rested people can perform more reps of relatively heavy weights – and perceive the task as less difficult – than people who are sleep deprived.
- Support your immune system. A recent study found that people who were exposed to a common cold virus were more likely to fight it off successfully if they got 8 or more hours of sleep each night.