Recovery From Alcohol Problems- Using Exercise And Sleep To Aid In Withdrawal

Dr. Purushothaman
September 11, 2013

The body of an alcoholic is probably as out of whack as anyone's, with the effects of alcohol abuse resulting in sleeping and/or eating at erratic times throughout the day. In order for a drinker to combat his alcohol problems, he must find a way to get his body back in balance and rhythm. Getting into rhythm requires the discipline of exercising daily, and getting accustomed to eating and sleeping at the same time each day. This means having breakfast, lunch, dinner, sleep and waking up around the same time every day. Over time, the well-being and quality of life of the current or recovering alcoholic will improve, making it easier to fend off symptoms of alcohol withdrawal or to entirely cut back or eliminate alcohol from your life.


The benefits of regular exercise have been well-documented. One problem a person with alcohol problems has is to find the motivation to begin an exercise regimen -- after all it's much easier to "just relax" with a drink in hand. The good news is once you do begin a dedicated exercise regimen, it's a lot easier to maintain that habit. So the challenge the current or recovering alcoholic has is to "just start!"

The hope of exercise is two-fold. First is replacing the alcohol high with a natural high, especially beneficial during times of alcohol withdrawal. Second is improving the self-esteem of the drinker, wilted by the effects of alcohol abuse. There's no better feeling than getting fit and looking and feeling better all around. You may even get compliments from family and friends. This eventually creates a self-improvement cycle capable of changing many facets including your reliance on alcohol.

The type of exercise you choose does not have to be rigorous to be beneficial or effective. There are many exercises that are easy on the joints, making them ideal for overweight, out of shape, older or elderly adults. In fact brisk walks, swimming, or doing pilates are three simple yet wonderful forms of exercise. It may take weeks to undo the visual effects of alcohol abuse on the body, but exercising 15-30 minutes a day is sure to do wonders mentally and physically over time.


People with alcohol problems are terrible sleepers, especially if they fall asleep 'under the influence,' or if they're in the midst of suffering alcohol withdrawal symptoms. Unfortunately the current or recovering alcoholic might put them self in a bleak position by feeling they can't fall asleep anymore while being sober. Yes, the first few nights of dozing off without a drink may be tough. But with a little willpower, dedication, a few simple lifestyle adjustments, and the help of some natural remedies, a return to normal sleep patterns may be just a week or two away.

So how does someone with alcohol problems find a new way of falling asleep. At first, they may be tempted to combat the effects of alcohol abuse by taking sleeping pills.

Sleep inducing drugs should be avoided. Not only are you substituting one drug for another, but nearly all sleeping pills leave you feeling 'groggy' the following morning, and many become addictive by themselves if used regularly. Similar to alcohol, you may also develop a higher tolerance to these sleep medicines. Rather, the current or recovering alcoholic should consider opting for a natural alternative.

Melatonin is quickly becoming the supplement of choice for millions suffering from sleep disorders. Due to its gentle nature and lack of side effects, it may be a good choice for someone recovering from alcohol problems. The standard dose of one to three milligrams of Melatonin 30-45 minutes before bed can gently ease a person to sleep. Unlike drugs, Melatonin usually leaves a person feeling refreshed upon awakening the following morning. NOTE: Melatonin is said to promote 'vivid' dreaming for some users. Therefore people prone to nightmares or other similar sleep disorders should refrain from using this supplement.

Do not get flustered or discouraged if it takes several days (or even weeks) to finally sleep better and see positive results. You didn't develop alcohol problems overnight and you will not improve in one night either.

Keep in mind that both exercise and sleep work hand-in-hand to effectively fight the effects of alcohol abuse on your body-mind. This means that if you get into the habit of exercising, your quality of sleep will benefit and vice-versa. Daily exercise makes you sleep more soundly, and sleeping better gives the current or recovering alcoholic added pep during their hours awake. Thusly, your willpower to reduce alcohol intake will become much greater, or your symptoms of alcohol withdrawal will naturally and gradually diminish.

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