Self-care is essential to living a balanced life, and it’s especially important during recovery. Eating well, being active and practicing mindfulness are incredibly helpful in staying sober. But it’s all meaningless if you’re running on empty.

Sleep deprivation is a recovery setback. When you aren’t getting enough quality, restorative sleep, it’s harder to manage stress, control your emotions and stay focused–all things that can trigger a relapse. Here are 10 signs you aren’t getting enough sleep:

1. You look tired.

If you aren’t getting enough sleep, you can see it on your face. Bleary, tired, bloodshot eyes, puffiness and dark circles are signs of lack of sleep.

2. You’re easily irritated.

When you’re tired, you’re less likely to be able to handle stressors–even the most minor things that don’t typically irritate you seem to set you off. Sleeplessness can cause you to lash out toward others, making it difficult to have positive interactions.

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3. You’re hungrier than usual.

Short sleep duration is associated with lower levels of leptin and higher levels of ghrelin, two opposing hormones that regulate appetite. The imbalance between these two hormones that occurs when you aren’t getting enough sleep can make you feel more hungry throughout the day.

4. A cold wipes you out.

Lack of sleep affects your immune system. People who don’t get enough quality sleep are more likely to get sick after being exposed to a virus, such as the common cold. It also affects your ability to bounce back if you do get sick. Plus, being sick can worsen existing feelings of irritability, increasing your risk of relapse.

5. You can’t focus.

It’s hard to do anything when you’re tired. You can’t focus on your conversations with other people or retain information, and even the simplest task is impossible to complete.

6. You’re emotional.

When you’re tired, you may become so irritable that even the slightest feeling of stress or overwhelm is enough to make you break down. This hinders your ability to manage emotions and can trigger a relapse.

7. You don’t have self-control.

If you aren’t getting adequate sleep, you may find yourself making bad, impulsive decisions. Lack of sleep clouds your judgment and affects your self-control. Maybe you find yourself behaving more erratically toward others or making more poor eating choices than usual.

8. You’re forgetful.

Sleep helps you retain information, so if you aren’t getting enough of it, you may find it difficult to remember certain things and recall them in the future. You may be disorganized, completely forget about something on your to-do list or have other bouts of forgetfulness that could eventually affect your job or relationships.

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9. You zone out.

You may feel like you’re running on autopilot, completely unaware of what’s happening in the moment. Maybe you find yourself spacing out while driving or doing things during the day with hardly any recollection of doing them later on.

10. You’re craving drugs or alcohol.

When you’re dealing with stress and unbalanced emotions from lack of sleep, you’re more likely to crave drugs or alcohol, which could lead to relapse.

How to Sleep Better

The cure for getting better sleep is often as simple as making a few tweaks to your daytime routine. These tips can help you feel more energetic during the day, but ready for sleep once it’s bedtime.

  • Limit caffeine consumption. Don’t drink any caffeine after 2 p.m.
  • Schedule your most demanding tasks early in the day and your easier tasks later. A smooth transition helps you wind down at the end of the day.
  • Don’t eat a big meal right before bed, but don’t go to bed hungry either. If you want a bedtime snack, keep it small. Nuts, fruit and decaffeinated tea are great options.
  • Establish a bedtime routine, so your body understands when it’s time for bed. Take a warm bath, dim the lights, listen to relaxing music or read a book.
  • If you can’t fall asleep after 15 to 20 minutes, get out of bed. Go into another room and do something relaxing. Read a book in dim light or do gentle yoga. When you feel tired, go back to bed.

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Immersion Recovery Center has long been a proponent of treatment that encompasses mind, body and spirit. We understand the importance of restorative sleep as it relates to recovery, which is why we incorporate self-care into treatment and offer private, well-appointed bedrooms that give our clients a space of their own to unwind and relax after a day of healing. To learn more about our holistic approach to treatment and how our services can help you or someone you love, contact us at (888) 693-1604


Reviewed for accuracy by :

Serving as the Inpatient Clinical Director at Immersion Recovery Center, Susan will work directly with staff members, clients, and family members to ensure the clinical program remains as effective and individualized as possible. Susan is no stranger to the fields of behavioral health and addiction. She has over 25 years of experience, working in an inpatient setting, an outpatient setting, acute stabilization and nearly all other settings in the realm of addiction recovery.