Alcohol Withdrawal – What to do if You Can’t Sleep

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Alcohol withdrawal and you can’t sleep – yes this is a common enough problem with anyone who has quit drinking and it can actually be a bit of a nightmare (no pun intended, sorry) for the recovering alcoholic because if they cannot sleep then they probably have the creepy crawlies and feel like just about jumping out of their own skin.  In most cases they will be very uncomfortable at this point and sleep would indeed be a welcome relief.  But if they are at this point then there is not much hope for sleep, especially if they are detoxing from alcohol on their own.

The problem is that many alcoholics have become dependent on alcohol physically, and many of them have not really fallen asleep naturally without the use of alcohol for a long time.  Even if they are not using alcohol as a sleep aid specifically, the withdrawal symptoms from detoxing will put their brain in a state of hyper awareness.  Essentially, their brain is saying “hey, I’m used to a little more of a depressed state, what is going on here?  I’m racing!”  And so they cannot hope to sleep as they have basically shocked their mind and their body by not giving it any alcohol all of a sudden.

36 hours of no sleep and counting/unflattering portrait 02
Creative Commons License photo credit: qoui

So what is the solution?

Well some people will inevitably drink at this point, and that is not too surprising. Of course we don’t want this to happen and would like to find an alternative.  Some people do exactly that by turning to other drugs or sleep aids in order to help them sleep through the alcohol withdrawal.  Again, this is probably a really bad idea, especially if you are not following the advice of a doctor, because (surprise!) alcoholics are not always so great at medicating themselves properly.  In fact, it can get pretty dangerous in some cases.

The solution is a bit expensive, but it has to be said anyway: go to rehab.  Trained medical staff can ease you through the alcohol withdrawal process and help you to sleep by treating your detox symptoms with carefully prescribed medication.  There are different drugs that can be used in order to accomplish this, and none of them should be administered by the alcoholic themselves (in my opinion).  Much better to have a doctor who is trained in dealing with addiction and detox to guide you through this process, like they have done with hundreds of alcoholics before you.

This is not to mention the fact that if you do not attend treatment while detoxing from alcohol, then you run a high risk of having a seizure as well.  This is just plain dangerous and you should also realize that alcohol withdrawal itself can be fatal.  Yes, you can die if you do not get help when you quit drinking.  So do take it seriously and consider professional services.

If you can’t sleep through alcohol withdrawal, consider going to treatment.  They can help you, and give you a better chance at staying sober in the long run.


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  • steve

    i have just spent 4 days in detox for alcahol. on day 3 and 4 i did not require any medications to aid my sleep (as restless as it was) but day 5 im at home for the first nite and cant seem to fall asleep. i do have a family wedding tomorow wich i am a litle anxious about. But is it normal to sleep ok initialy and have problems getting to sleep once most other withdrawal symptoms have passed.

  • patrick

    steve don’t drink bra. that crap is poison. Im sober for 20 days and my sleep ing sucks balls. hope your ok.


  • Prashant Sami

    Your site is just what was looking for. You have no clue how long I have
    been thinking about the same thing! I am so glad that I am no longer
    by myself.

  • Jeff

    I quit drinking 8 days ago.The first 2 days I slept relatively ok. Since then I get at max 2 hrs sleep in 30 min REM modes,, very vivid dreams. Am exhausted with sleep deprivation. Was even taking klonopin for panic attacks. I started sertraline last nite and the dreams were super vivid and short. I hope if the sertraline gets my serotonin levels back combined with the klonopin that have been taking for years I can sleep and function again.

  • Helen & Ian

    Have come home with the resolution to stop drinking from today, after drinking to sleep for many years now…….

  • Stacy Parrish

    Wish you people would understand…. one addiction can lead to another. no medication can really help you. you can help you. natural supplements do no let the feed your mind with bullshit. It could possibly lead to certain types of alcoholics to die during their own detoxing without meds. but what about all those other side affects that have taken over during those perscriptions? exactly. there is danger either way you want. it is what you feel. you will know you more than anybody. what do you have in life? if nothing (you think) look again… (if nothing,you think) your wrong you have you! what can yo do? ( ask yourself ) you can do anything that you put your mind too.

  • lee cheetham

    i had a week with no sleep i was sober for 5 month before going back on it but i only drink 4 nights a week so i still get mild withdrawels

  • suvindra shetty

    i want to get rid of alcholal & save my dignity

  • Eric

    The alcohol won’t keep me asleep any more.what can I do to go to sleep an stay asleep.

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