What are the effects of addictions on sleep and rest?

It is estimated that we spend a third of our life asleep, it is during sleep that we can recover both physically and psychologically.

In this article we will examine the effects of addictions on sleep and rest, saying that all of them have a detrimental effect on this, highlighting a marked lack of rest and insomnia, as well as some imbalances in the different phases of sleep.

    How do addictive disorders affect sleep?

    Here, we’ll break down the sleep disorders that addictions encourage.

    1. Effects of prolonged alcohol consumption on sleep and rest

    Nowadays, it is well known that alcohol is the central nervous system depressant and, as such, it produces negative effects on people who consume it for a long time at several levels, including rest.

    When alcohol is consumed on time, it has been found that it can even cause drowsiness, so it has not been shown to cause difficulty in falling asleep.

    Sleep problems occur when alcohol consumption is exceeded in reasonable amounts, as among studies on the effects of addictions on sleep and rest, alcoholism and its effects on sleep is the subject on which more and more studies have been carried out.

    Problems in the phases of sleep associated with alcohol consumption

    When alcohol is consumed in excess, it is common to wake up at night. There is also a decrease in the latency of falling asleep, which leads to an mismatch in the duration of the different phases of sleep, so that the REM phase is reached earlier than necessary, causing this phase to increase.

    In the case of patients with chronic alcoholism, research has shown that they have shorter deep sleep and also shorter REM sleep duration, as well as more fragmented sleep.

    In addition, other research has shown that excessive alcohol consumption decreases electroencephalogram (EEG) activity during sleep and various brain wave disorders at different stages, and may be absent in REM sleep.

      Effects of abstinence from alcohol on sleep and rest

      In addition to the effects of addictions on sleep and rest, there are also the effects induced by abstinence from them.

      When people with alcoholism try to stop drinking, that’s when the withdrawal syndrome starts. And during this phase, it is common for sleep and rest to be disturbed, with a high percentage of cases of insomnia.

      Since they usually sleep less than necessary, their sleep is even more fragmented.; on the other hand, the REM phase and rapid eye movements increase, the latency being affected to reach this last phase of sleep being affected, so the rest does not become restorative.

      These withdrawal symptoms usually appear 7 to 48 hours after you stop drinking., presenting the highest degree of discomfort around the 3 days of abstinence; It is common for these symptoms to go away after a week of abstinence, although insomnia can last longer, especially if the person is suffering from depression and / or anxiety.

        2. Effects of excessive cell phone use on sleep and rest

        Among the effects of sleep and rest addictions are those that cause excessive use of cell phones.

        In recent years, addiction to cell phones and the use of social media has only increased, and populations of adolescents and young adults are the most vulnerable to this addiction.

        This is why many studies have been carried out, highlighting the daily problems that push these young people to abuse their cell phones, such as poor school performance, anxiety, depression and insomnia.

        There are studies that show that teenagers who are addicted to cell phones tend to get poorer quality sleep than those who are not. insomnia being one of the main consequences of the improper use of these devices.

        In addition, in these cases, the frequency of eye movements during REM sleep was reduced, as well as a shortening of sleep latency and an increase in activity reflected in the electroencephalogram (EEG). that’s why his rest is generally not restorative and they suffer from drowsiness in the morning, which can affect their performance.

        A study of 400 high school students found a positive correlation between feelings of loneliness and increased cell phone use, as well as another positive correlation between cell phone use and poor sleep quality. .

          3. Effects of other addictions to sleep and rest

          This section will briefly explain the effects of sleep and rest addictions on people who consume the various substances listed below.

          3.1. Cocaine

          Cocaine, being a central nervous system (CNS) stimulant, it decreases and may even suppress the need for sleep and rest.. A person addicted to this substance can suffer from a circadian rhythm disorder, therefore they do not get enough sleep and therefore their sleep is not restful; waking up drowsy, which could trigger an increased urge to consume this stimulant, which would become a vicious cycle.

          It should be noted that daytime sleepiness is one of the most common symptoms of cocaine withdrawal syndrome, along with insomnia.

            3.2. Opioids

            Among the effects of addiction to sleep and rest, the damage caused by opioid use is very important. These are a group of substances that seriously harm the lives of those who use any of the drugs in this group, such as heroin, including severe sleep and rest disturbances.

            As is the case with people with a prolonged alcohol dependence, people with an opioid addiction have a shorter REM and deep sleep duration, so this is an addiction that also affects sleep and rest.

            In addition, when a person is addicted to this type of substance, they have altered circadian rhythms, and furthermore, these subjects have been found to have impaired muscle activity during sleep and move more than normal.

            As with other addictions, when trying to get out of opioid addiction, withdrawal symptoms appear, among which insomnia is common, as well as waking up during the night, so that the person does not get good quality sleep.

            On the other hand, we have seen that when they take methadone treatment to maintain opioid withdrawal, they sleep better. only in the case of subjects who do not receive its administration and try to remain sober without the aid of this substance.

              3.4. Cannabis

              Cannabis addiction is also not without negative effects on sleep and rest. Studies of people addicted to cannabis have shown that they suffer from decreased REM sleep, just like opioids, as it was also found that their sleep is more fragmented, so that they do not have a completely restful rest.

              While trying to stop using cannabis, it has been found that most people suffer from insomnia, among other symptoms characteristic of withdrawal syndrome. In addition, we have also seen that the duration of the REM phase increases and returns to a correct duration of the different sleep phases.

              Prevalence of insomnia in patients dependent on different substances

              In a study carried out in Spain by Grau-López and his colleagues in 2016 on 481 patients with drug addiction, it was noted that 64.3% suffered from insomnia, fragmented sleep being very common (49.9% of cases). It has also been found that drug addict patients with comorbid anxiety disorder and onset of drug use at an early age were the most likely to suffer from insomnia.

              On the other hand, there are studies that show that there is a two-way relationship between drug addiction and insomnia, which is why people with sleeping problems were more likely to develop some kind of addiction. a posteriori.

                Phases of correct and restorative sleep

                Better understand the effects of addictions on sleep and rest we will see the different phases with the duration of a correct and restful sleep.

                As we have seen, the effects of addiction on sleep and rest have a negative impact on the quality of life of those who suffer from it.

                We will now see how nighttime sleep must be subdivided for it to be restful, a 5-phase component, which is both classified between REM sleep and non-REM sleep.

                The first through fourth phases are those that make up non-REM sleep, while the fifth phase is where REM sleep occurs.

                Phase 1

                This is the phase of light sleep, when the subject begins to fall asleep, which lasts a few minutes.

                The activity of the body begins to slowly decrease and the person can still wake up easily.

                Phase 2

                At this point, sleep begins to deepen, lasting between 10 and 20 minutes.

                The physiological activity of the body continues to decrease and here the person can still wake up easily, even if it would be more complicated than in phase 1.

                Phase 3

                It is a phase that lasts between 15 and 30 minutes, in which the muscles are in a state of complete relaxation, there is no normal movement of the body or limbs, and the person is difficult to wake up.

                Phase 4

                This phase usually lasts approximately the same as phase 3, being the deepest phase of sleep, it is therefore very difficult to wake the person up during this phase.

                Phase 5 or REM sleep

                To reach this stage, in a dream following a correct trajectory, approximately 90 minutes should have elapsed and the time is approximately 20 minutes.. At this stage, knowledge is given of rapid eye movements. It is also a stage in which it is relatively difficult to wake the person up.

                Bibliographical references

                • APIR. (2021). Manual of Clinical Psychology (Volume II). Madrid: APIR.
                • Cañellas, F. and de Lecea, L. (2012). Relations between sleep and addiction. Dependencies, 24 (4), 287-290.
                • Carbonell, X., Fúster, H., Chamarro, A. and Oberst, U. (2012). Internet and mobile addiction: a review of empirical Spanish studies. Papers du psychologue, 2012. Vol. 33 (2), p. 82-89.
                • Grau-Lopez, L. et al. (2016). Administrative prevalence of insomnia in drug addicted patients during the use of active substances and associated clinical features. Spanish acts of psychiatry, 44 (2), pp. 64-71.
                • Li, M. and Lu, L. (2017). The influence of cell phone addiction on the quality of sleep of high school students left behind: the mediating role of society. Argentine Journal of Psychological Clinic, 46 (1), p. 71-81.
                • Tamayo, WA, García, F., Quijano, NK, Corrals, A. and Moo, JA (2012). Social networks Internet, sleep patterns and depression. Teaching and research in psychology, 17 (2), pp. 427-436.

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