Updated: Sep 1, 2021
One of the best things about being sober is the sleep. I have not slept this great since I was in high school! I LOVE to crawl into my bed at the end of a long, productive day, knowing I don't have anything to regret and so much to be thankful for in this world.
I used to fear bedtime before I stopped drinking. I used to have such anxiety around sleep, and I would drink to have to soothe my mind and to make myself fall asleep. I would have that extra drink just to ensure that I would pass out. That was how it was for me these last few years before I quit.
For as long as I can remember, I used alcohol to help me relax, to release and to stop my thoughts from swirling. I also treated it like the magical elixir that made me feel invincible, providing me with false confidence. It made all my insecurities evaporate for a short time when I was with my friends, and when I would crawl into bed I would feel calm only to pass out and wake up in a panic a few hours later with crippling anxiety. I thought booze helped me relax and enjoy myself. I thought it made me sleep better. I have now learned what good sleep feels like, and I realized how very wrong I was for so many years to use alcohol to help me fast forward through the nighttime hours. Little did I know that alcohol was only fueling my anxiety and my sleep problems. My anxiety is a whole separate issue that has also improved dramatically, but enjoying quality sleep again has been something that has been life changing for me.
When motherhood hit over ten years ago, I stopped working and I had my babies, and things took a turn for me in the sleep department. I was awake at all hours, all the time, night after night, and I didn't get a real, deep, sound sleep for years, after having three kids under four. There were lots of sleepless nights, and I never felt well rested. Exhausted all the time, sleep deprived from one child to the next, I didn't know how it felt to have kids that slept through the night. My oldest was an awful sleeper for a long time. This coupled with the fact that I also didn't know how to wind down at the end of the day with three young, screaming kids around me. So, alcohol helped me relax, soothe, calm myself. It became a vicious cycle of self-medicating. Mommy wine time became a real thing for me, and I surrounded myself with friends that thought the same for years.
Fast forward ten years later and the habits increased significantly, my sleep problems never improved, and my dependency on alcohol to fall asleep became a daily necessity. I also began to try medical marijuana to help with sleep as well as a number of other prescriptions given to me by my PCP. Lots of numbing out. Lots of avoidance. Nothing helped me sleep, and I usually woke up groggy, cranky and turning to alcohol that next night.
And I always dreaded going to bed. I was terrified of being alone with my thoughts in the middle of the night. I never wanted my head to hit the pillow without alcohol in my body, because I never believed I could sleep without it. Boy, was I wrong. As Laura McKowen says, "Drinking is like pouring gasoline on your anxiety. And then lighting a match."
Now that I am sober and figuring out how to manage my anxiety, I have now learned to enjoy sleep again. It has been an incredible part of sobriety, and I am grateful for it every single day. I cannot wait for my head to hit the pillow in the evening hours, and my bed has become my most sacred spot in my house, aside from my writing desk. I fall asleep in seconds, stay asleep and wake up bright and early ready to go - rested, happy and grateful to be on this road of recovery.