Mental HealthRecovery

Detox & Withdrawal Insomnia

By December 3, 2021 December 23rd, 2021 No Comments
Woman experiencing withdrawal insomnia

When making the decision to break free from addiction, one of the first steps is to undergo detox. In order to undergo effective addiction treatment, your body must first be given a chance to be completely rid of the toxins from drugs and alcohol.

During this time, you will likely begin to experience withdrawal symptoms. This is because the brain has become accustomed to receiving certain chemicals from the substances you have been taking.1 Without them, the brain begins to experience discomfort and anxiety. As a result, this can often lead to sleeplessness and insomnia.

Here are some factors to take into account regarding how your sleep cycles and circadian rhythms will be affected during the detox phase.

What is Detox?

Detox is generally described as the process of removing all traces of alcohol and drugs from the body to ensure that a person is both physically stable and psychologically ready to start treatment.2

If you have been struggling with alcohol or other drug addiction, your body will have become used to having psychoactive substances in its system. In order for the brain to adjust to this sudden drop in these chemicals, these substances must gradually be removed from the body over time.

How Long Does Withdrawal Insomnia Last?

On average, most symptoms of insomnia from alcohol detox timelines can last approximately 3-7 days.3 Learn More.

Alcohol/drugs should be removed from a patient’s body over a period of time, not all at once. Withdrawal symptoms will start when a gradual reduction in the amount of alcohol/drugs is introduced. Most people who suffer from alcoholism or drug addiction will experience the various withdrawal symptoms listed below. The  severity of these symptoms depends on how long a person has been addicted, the type of substance, how much they have been consuming, and their general mental and physical health.

Withdrawal symptoms can be quite unpleasant and distressing. The goal of the detox process is to minimize the impact of those withdrawal symptoms while making the experience as safe and as comfortable as possible. The most effective form of detox is one that is medically assisted and supported by trained medical professional staff. This usually happens within a specialized detox center or facility, under the care of doctors, nurses and other healthcare professionals.

What Are Common Physical Symptoms of Withdrawal?

Some common symptoms of withdrawal are:3

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Headaches
  • Nausea
  • Sweating
  • Tachycardia
  • Tremors
  • Vomiting
  • Weight gain
  • Fatigue
  • Insomnia
Woman having troulbe sleeping due to withdrawal insomnia

How Your Sleep Patterns may be Affected During Detox

Trouble sleeping is a common symptom among withdrawals from all types of substance use disorders, including alcohol, cannabis, prescription and illicit drugs, sedatives, anxiety medications, and stimulants. Different people can have varied withdrawal symptoms and different degrees of sleep problems, so treatment needs to be tailored to the individual.

During detox, your body is not running in its normal circadian rhythm because of the shock of withdrawal within your system. Prolonged drug use or excessive alcohol use can change how your body works. It affects your sleep patterns, which in turn affect your hormones and metabolism. Detox is a time when your body is beginning to recover from the changes in its physiology that resulted from using the substance.4 It may not be a comfortable change, but it is important to keep in mind that the discomfort is temporary, and your body is beginning to heal and readjust its internal equilibrium.

Ways to Cope With Withdrawal Insomnia

While you can’t completely avoid the symptoms of insomnia induced by withdrawal, there are some steps you can take to have a better recovery and avoid making the insomnia worse.

Develop a consistent sleep schedule: A structured sleep schedule is essential to healing and emotional health because getting enough sleep is vital to thinking clearly and controlling mood swings and cravings, among other things. Trying to regulate your sleep by going to bed at the same time each day and waking up at the exact same time each morning is a good way of establishing a healthy sleep schedule. Try to engage in relaxing and restful activities to wind down at night, such as reading or listening to music.

Yoga and stretching exercises: Both of these practices can improve blood flow and circulation, relieve tension and muscle pain, and reduce stress. Mindfulness meditation uses breathing techniques to help people learn how to respond to physical cues. By understanding and responding physically, a person can better connect the spirit, mind, body. Mindfulness meditation can provide introspection and self-awareness, and it can help people strengthen the connection between the soul, mind, and body, and it can also lower anxiety, physical pain, depression, and other symptoms of withdrawal.

Stay hydrated: Drink plenty of water throughout the day. Water helps flush toxins out of the body and keeps your skin healthy. Also, try drinking herbal tea during the day. Herbal teas contain antioxidants that support liver function. They also help with digestion, and they can help you feel more relaxed and less anxious.

Eat well: Eating well will help reduce the extent of potential headaches, fatigue, and nausea. Try eating small meals frequently throughout the day.

Avoid technology use too late in the evening: TV, phones and computers can be hard on your natural sleep cycle. If you’re having trouble sleeping at night, try turning off electronics an hour before bedtime.

Exercise regularly: Rigorous physical activity releases endorphins into your brain, which can make you feel happier and more alert. Exercise also increases serotonin levels in your brain, which helps regulate moods. When you exercise regularly, your body produces more endorphins and serotonin, which makes you feel good about yourself. Exercise also boosts your energy level and improves your overall health.

Utilize relaxation techniques: Relaxation techniques can be useful for reducing anxiety and other negative emotions, as well as enhancing relaxation. Spa treatments may also be helpful for easing stress and enhancing relaxation.

How Better Quality Sleep Can Help During The Detox Process

Not only is sleep a vital part of your core functioning, but better quality sleep can actually help improve the detox process overall.

Studies have shown that the body’s Glympthatic System, which is responsible for removing toxins from your body, is nearly 10 times more active while asleep.5

Did you know: During sleep, brain cells can reduce up to 60% in size, allowing for toxins to be flushed out with greater efficacy.5

With your body working more efficiently, you will be able to have a more effective detox process, allowing you to be able to start addiction treatment with a fresher body and mind.

HOw Schick Shadel can help with detox

How Schick Shadel Can Help During Your Detox Process

Withdrawals can be a daunting start to recovery. Our medically-supervised detox process at Schick Shadel Hospital can help mitigate the withdrawal symptoms and provide 24/7 care and supervision to make sure your detox is safe and attended to.

We understand that each person has unique needs during detox, regardless of whether they have gone through detox previously. Call today to learn more about our detox and addiction treatment services. Detox is the first step to lasting recovery, Make sure you take the right steps to reclaim your life from addiction. Call 1-800-CRAVING to get started! 


  1. Clinical Guidelines for Withdrawal Management and Treatment of Drug Dependence in Closed Settings. Geneva: World Health Organization; 2009. 4, Withdrawal Management. Available from:
  2. Center for Substance Abuse Treatment. Incorporating Alcohol Pharmacotherapies Into Medical Practice. Rockville (MD): Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (US); 2009. (Treatment Improvement Protocol (TIP) Series, No. 49.) Available from:
  3. Center for Substance Abuse Treatment. Detoxification and Substance Abuse Treatment. Treatment Improvement Protocol (TIP) Series, No. 45. HHS Publication No. (SMA) 15-4131. Rockville, MD: Center for Substance Abuse Treatment, 2006.
  4. Wilkerson AK, Sahlem GL, Bentzley BS, et al. Insomnia severity during early abstinence is related to substance use treatment completion in adults enrolled in an intensive outpatient program. J Subst Abuse Treat. 2019;104:97-103. doi:10.1016/j.jsat.2019.06.003
  5. Jessen, N. A., Munk, A. S., Lundgaard, I., & Nedergaard, M. (2015). The Glymphatic System: A Beginner’s Guide. Neurochemical research, 40(12), 2583–2599.
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