substance abuse sleeping disorders

Sleep Disorders and Substance Abuse

Published On January 6, 2019 | By Joshua Sigafus | Sleep, Sleep Apnea

There are a lot of different factors that can impact our ability to sleep, and substance abuse is one of them. While many people may not think of this as a category of behavior that could hurt our quality of sleep, it is actually far more instrumental than most people realize.

But first, let’s define ‘substance abuse.’

According to, substance abuse can accurately be defined as ‘the excessive use of drugs or alcohol that leads to significant clinical impairments and the loss of ability to function academically, professionally, and socially.’

But what is a substance? In this quote, says ‘drugs and alcohol’ specifically. But there are also other things that could be added to this classification.

According to, substance abuse could also be defined as taking drugs that are not legal, or when you ‘use alcohol, prescription medicine, and other legal substances too much or in the wrong way.’
The facts are plain enough when it comes to this topic. Substance abuse is bad for you, and that is not so difficult to understand. After all, we learn this in middle school. But what we don’t necessarily learn in middle school are these two very important facts.

  1. Getting quality, healthy sleep is absolutely essential to good health and a good quality of life.
  2. Substance abuse will absolutely hurt your quality of sleep, among other things.

We get it. Parties happen. Life happens. People want to live their lives freely, and sometimes, experimenting with drugs and/or alcohol is a part of that. Debating whether this is right or wrong is pointless, because every individual must make this choice on their own.

But in this post, we are going to talk about how damaging substance abuse can be to your quality of sleep.

Here is what you need to know.

Substance Abuse: What Exactly Does It Do to Your Quality of Sleep?

Substance abuse can cause a number of sleeping problems, the most notable of which are insomnia, sleep apnea, and restless leg syndrome.

There are various reasons for why substances can cause these problems, and we will not necessarily get into all of that in this post. But what should be mentioned is that it is a common misconception among drug and alcohol users that ceasing the use of whatever substances they are using will also solve the sleeping issues.

The truth is that most of these sleeping problems can actually continue for quite some time, even after the individual has stopped using the drugs or the alcohol.

Sleep deprivation can have a profound and damaging effect on our everyday life. It can cause a number of different issues, including losses in:

  • Mental function
  • Alertness
  • Retention
  • Reasoning
  • Problem solving
  • Concentration

It can also increase your risk of dealing with certain different health problems. These may include:

  • Stroke
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Heart attack
  • Congestive heart failure
  • High blood pressure
  • Depression
  • Premature aging

What Can Be Done About It?

If you are currently using substances, then it is only a matter of time before it starts to affect your quality of sleep. So discontinuing the use of the drugs/alcohol is extremely important, especially if getting enough sleep is important to you.

If you are already having sleeping problems and realize that substance abuse could potentially be a factor, than discontinuing the use of the substances right away could possibly get you back on track.

Just remember that the change may not occur overnight. It can sometimes take a while for your body to go back to its normal ‘rhythm’ after using substances that alter your brain or body chemistry, so give it a few weeks, or even a few months (depending on how long you have been using the substance) before expecting results.

If you think that you may have a problem with substance addiction, finding help for the problem might be the first step toward solving your sleeping woes as well.

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