Adolescents who struggle with addiction, mental health, and trauma often have long-term challenges. However, by getting treatment and addressing the issues head-on, adolescents can build a set of skills that helps support them far beyond their teenage years. Creating a consistent and helpful sleep routine is one form of structure that sets adolescents up for success later on. By learning a structure that is helpful for them, their risk of relapse decreases, their mental health improves, and they have coping skills that can help them throughout their adult life.
What a Sleep Routine Looks Like in Treatment
When an adolescent is in treatment, their routine is highly structured and regulated. The specific routine will vary for each teen; however, it is the ideal time and environment to build a new routine because adolescents will have a tremendous amount of support and care. This will help them make necessary changes and experiment with different routines to see what suits them best.
Part of an adolescent’s sleep routine in treatment will be regulated if they are in residential or inpatient treatment. This is due to the 24-hour support and structure. Additionally, in a residential program, adolescents will be encouraged to try different tactics that help to improve their sleep. However, adolescents who are receiving treatment and living at home will have less support from treatment center staff. Therefore, parents can help them to improve their sleep routines. It is especially helpful if parents work with the treatment caregivers to understand the value of these changes.
Value of a Sleep Routine for Long-Term Success
To have long-term success in recovery, adolescents need to learn and create routines that support their mental health and sobriety. While self-care routines all impact each other, sleep is particularly important for decreasing their risk of relapse, improving overall self-care, and managing stress in treatment and later on in life. As adolescents create and practice their new routines, the hope is that they become normalized for them. In doing so, they are supported by the structure they have created when things get difficult.
Risk of Relapse
Addiction and substance use impact an adolescent’s sleep patterns. Therefore, during treatment, it is common for adolescents to struggle to get back to a normal and healthy sleep routine. However, when they do, they improve their ability to stay sober long-term. Research has found that with sleep loss or disruption of the circadian rhythm, which is the body’s 24-hour clock, the circuits that control reward-seeking and relapse behaviors are affected.
Therefore, sleep deprivation or changes in routine that impact sleep can lead to relapse. It is believed that this is due to the changes that occur in the brain due to lack of sleep. Specifically, the frontal lobe, responsible for logical reasoning, is inhibited when an adolescent has an inadequate amount of sleep.
There are many aspects of self-care, and having a sleep routine is one. For adolescents, the idea of staying up all night can seem cool, but they can learn the value of sleep and begin to improve their sleep routine. In doing so, they are building self-care patterns for their life. While many things change as teenagers grow up, many of these patterns will stick around. For example, if an adolescent learns to follow a certain sleep routine at home, when they go to college, they might change it some, but the foundation of it will remain.
Many adolescents struggle to learn how to manage stress. However, when they become adults, the stress will not magically go away. Therefore, adolescents need to learn effective methods of managing stress early on. A regular sleep schedule is one effective and easy way to do so. Sleep can help improve stress by decreasing the perception of stress and helping individuals to alleviate it. Therefore, when an adolescent struggles to get enough quality sleep, they will feel the effects of stress more acutely and be less able to recover from it.
Building a Sleep Routine
Getting enough sleep is vital for all adolescents, especially for those who are building structure in their lives to support long-term recovery. However, the action of building a sleep schedule can be difficult. The first step to understanding a sleep schedule is to understand that sleep is regulated by the circadian rhythm. Again, this is the body’s 24-hour clock that releases hormones and neurotransmitters, telling the body when to sleep, be alert, eat, and more.
A sleep routine may include actions in the evening and throughout the day. Parts of an evening sleep routine commonly include relaxing, winding down without using electronics, and following a routine that is easy and helps the body and mind settle down before sleep. Getting outside, having a useful exercise routine, and spending time in the sun are also important factors that can improve an adolescent’s sleep.
When adolescents are in treatment, it is an ideal time for them to build new routines that they can use in recovery. Creating a consistent sleep routine is a structure that they can take into adulthood to support their recovery and mental health. At Sustain Recovery, we believe that a combination of behavioral changes and evidence-based clinical interventions provides the best treatment for adolescents to address their addiction and mental health needs. In our programs, teens will improve their awareness and build skills that help them, both now and in their long-term recovery. To learn more about our programs or to speak with a staff member, call us today at (949) 407-9052.