The term insomnia refers to a condition where a person has difficulty sleeping. This can occur in a number of different manners, including:
The Academy of Sleep Medicine has a number of specifications that classify issues with insomnia.
According to Epidemiology of Sleep, a number of risk factors have been identified that increase the probability that individuals may develop issues with insomnia. These risk factors include:
The relationship between insomnia and alcohol abuse or alcohol use disorder (the current clinical designation for alcohol abuse or alcoholism) is bidirectional. People with sleep disorders are significantly more likely to be diagnosed with any substance use disorder than individuals who do not have sleep disorders. In addition, individuals with mental health disorders are far more likely to have alcohol use disorders than individuals without these conditions.
Likewise, individuals who suffer from alcoholism often experience issues with insomnia as a complication of their alcohol abuse, as alcohol intake disrupts the quality of an individual sleep; alcohol interferes with REM sleep. Individuals who have alcohol use disorders and have attempted to remain abstinent will experience issues with insomnia as a result of the withdrawal process.
Finally, a number of medical conditions, such as chronic back pain, are strongly associated with the development of depression; the development of a substance use disorder; such as alcohol use disorder; or both. Thus, the relationship between insomnia and substance use disorders like alcoholism is very complicated and occurs over a number of different contexts. It is virtually impossible to make a determination regarding any type of causal relationship between alcohol abuse and issues with sleep because these variables are so interconnected. Several important relationships are known:
Based on these findings, it is important to consider issues that may occur with sleep difficulties, co-occurring psychological disorders, and co-occurring physical issues when someone is being treated for alcohol use disorder.
Individuals with moderate to severe alcohol use disorders will often have a number of co-occurring issues like mental health disorders, such as major depressive disorder, and a number of other health issues. Insomnia will be a common symptom of all of these conditions and should be addressed in conjunction with other issues in order for an individual to experience a smoother transition to recovery. Using an integrated treatment approach, where a multidisciplinary team of treatment providers work together at helping the individual reach their goals, would be the preferred approach in such a case.
The outline of the treatment approach would include the following elements: