Substance or drug-induced sleep disorder is the official diagnostic name for insomnia and other sleep problems caused by the consumption of alcohol, drugs, or the use of certain medications. Roughly translated, it means that one of the effects of drinking alcohol, drug use, or medication is that you have trouble falling asleep at the time you want to sleep, at the time you want to sleep excessively sleep drowsiness during the day or unusual behaviors when you sleep.
Substance or drug-induced sleep disorder is different from the occasional difficulty falling asleep or falling asleep, which is actually perfectly normal.
Substance or drug-induced sleep disorder is also different from the transient insomnia or fatigue that affects people immediately after using alcohol or drugs, which is a normal response to the substance or activities of people who use alcohol or drugs, such as: B. Staying later than your usual bedtime or participating in vigorous activities during time when alcohol or drugs are being used (e.g. dancing). In contrast to these normal reactions to alcohol or drugs, a substance / drug-induced sleep disorder will make sleep more disturbing and the negative effects will last much longer.
Which drugs cause substance / drug-induced sleep disorders?
A variety of psychoactive substances can cause substance-induced sleep disorders, including:
- Other substances or stimulants
It is known that drugs cause substance / drug-induced sleep disorders. This includes:
- Adrenergic agonists or antagonists
- Dopamine agonist or antagonists
- Cholinergic agonist or antagonist
- Serotonergic agonist or antagonist
The chronic cycle of substance use and sleep problems
Many people find that alcohol and some other drugs have a relaxing effect and, at least initially, that a drink, joint, or dose of a sedative or opiate can help them sleep. Others find that caffeine or other stimulants can help them stay awake for long periods of time when they need to stay alert but would otherwise be drowsy.
For some people who regularly drink alcohol or take recreational drugs or medication, a chronic cycle may develop in which they drink or use drugs or medication to relax and unwind, or to fall asleep or sleep or, on the contrary, to wake up to stay during long shifts or nightly parties. The drug disrupts the body’s natural activation and relaxation processes and makes it difficult to fall asleep. The person is then more likely to use a substance again to help sleep and possibly need more of the drug to be effective as tolerance develops.
However, this doesn’t work for long. While alcohol and other relaxing drugs can help you initially fall asleep, sleep is not restful or restful, and you may be surprised to find yourself awake at night. This is typically followed by periods of insomnia, tiredness, exhaustion, and uncontrollable feelings of tiredness and drowsiness during the waking hours. Frustrated, many people who experience these problems often turn to caffeine and other stimulants to combat daytime tiredness, which in turn makes it harder to fall asleep before bed.
Types of substance / drug induced sleep disorders
There are four main types of substance-induced sleep disorders:
- Insomnia type: In insomnia type insomnia, you may have difficulty falling or falling asleep, waking up a lot at night, or feeling unrested from sleep.
- Daytime sleepiness: The type of sleep disorder in the daytime sleepy state makes the person feel excessively sleepy or tired during the day, or sleep very long less often, possibly longer than desired or intended.
- Parasomnia type: The type of sleep disorder with parasomnia may experience abnormal behavior during sleep. During this time, most of us stay fairly calm and still while sleeping (with the exception of possible snoring).
- Mixed kind: In the mixed type of sleep disorder, the person has several different sleep symptoms, but no particular symptom is predominant. You may have insomnia at night, for example drowsiness during the day.
How soon after taking the drug can a sleep disorder be triggered?
In some cases, a sleep disorder can be triggered almost immediately after taking a drug or medication. According to the diagnostic guidelines for physicians and other health professionals assessing sleep disorders, there is even a category “onset during intoxication,” which means that the sleep disorder actually starts when the person is under the influence of alcohol, a recreational drug, or Medication.
It can also occur when taking off. Sleep disorders are a very common withdrawal symptom and, like other withdrawal symptoms, often resolve on their own within days or weeks of stopping alcohol, drugs, or medication. So it will take time to determine if sleep problems are just a symptom of withdrawal. This will be seen if the person’s sleep improves within a few days or weeks of stopping taking the drug.
In contrast, a substance-induced sleep disorder may experience sleep problems during withdrawal and may continue or worsen as the person moves through the detox process into the post-withdrawal recovery period. Sometimes sleep problems are part of a larger group of longer-term withdrawal symptoms called post-acute withdrawal syndrome (PAWS).
What if you had trouble sleeping before using alcohol, drugs, or medication?
When doctors or other health care professionals diagnose a substance / medication-induced sleep disorder, they verify that the sleep problem is absent prior to consuming alcohol, drugs, or any medication believed to be responsible. This is because there are different types of sleep problems, and if symptoms were present before substance use, it is not the type of substance or medication caused sleep disorder.
In general, the diagnosis of substance / drug induced sleep disorder is not made on people who have had a history of non-substance use sleep disorders or who have had symptoms for more than a month after the person has stopped using alcohol, drugs, or medication. This does not mean that their sleep problems are not real or serious; it simply means that they are not considered to be caused by substance use. As mentioned earlier, there are many different causes of insomnia, and most can be improved with lifestyle changes in addition to reducing or eliminating alcohol, drugs, or medications with side effects that interfere with normal sleep patterns.
Hardship or impact on life
Finally, in order to diagnose a substance / drug induced sleep disorder, there must be a significant impact of the sleep problem on the person’s life, either by causing great stress or by interfering with some aspect of their life. This can include anything from their social life to their employment situation or any other part of their life that is important to them.
Become aware of your sleep problem
It can take months or even years to diagnose a substance- or drug-induced sleep disorder. Because medications tend to affect feelings of alertness and relaxation, people expect their sleep to be affected to some extent and expect a rebound effect afterward. Then it can seem more like a series of bad nights than a disorder that won’t go away on its own.
The irony of substance-induced sleep disorder is that many people drink, take drugs, or use medication to help them fall asleep, but the same drugs actually interfere with sleep afterward. Because of this, people often do not realize that it is alcohol, drugs, or medication that are causing the sleep problems because they associate these substances with the induction of sleep.
Sleep disorders can have many different causes, from stress to the normal effects of aging. Therefore, doctors may not realize the true nature of the problem as many people are not open with their doctor about alcohol or drug use because of stigma and fear of judgment. They can also lie about how much prescription drug or over-the-counter medication they use for fear of being cut off from their supply of medication. People who admit alcohol and drug use also often underestimate or underestimate the amount of alcohol or drugs they consume. All of these factors often prevent people from getting the correct diagnosis of substance / drug induced sleep disorder.
A word from Verywell
Once you are aware of your sleep problem and its causes, it is important to seek professional help in making the transition back to healthy sleep patterns. Talk to your doctor about referral to an addiction drug or sleep specialist. If you are using alcohol, opioids, meth, or benzodiazepines, it is important to get adequate medical assistance during the withdrawal process. Not only does this make it more comfortable, with fewer symptoms, but these substances can lead to severe withdrawal symptoms like seizures or psychosis, which can be life-threatening without medical supervision.
Once you’ve stopped the medication that was causing your sleep problems, it will take time for your sleep patterns to return to normal. Be patient. The best ways to support this process are:
- Set and stick to normal sleep and wake times
- Exercise regularly during the day
- Going outside in the morning which will help reset your “body clock”.
- avoid stress
- Good nutrition without going to bed excessively hungry or full