Alcohol Withdrawal: Sleep Disturbances

Bill CarrickAlcohol Withdrawal

Sleep Disturbances

Alcohol withdrawal has multiple signs and symptoms.  Recent posts on this blog have looked at tremors or shakes, appetite disturbance, and anxiety.  Another key symptom is trouble sleeping. Sleep disturbances include intense dreaming and nightmares.

The withdrawal of Alcohol from an alcohol dependent person elicits symptoms that are just the opposite of what Alcohol may do for someone. Alcohol is often used by people to help them get to sleep. It can be effective to help people get to sleep but it is not effective in helping them stay asleep. The opposite of helping people to get to sleep is trouble sleeping.

A publication by the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism on sleep and alcohol identify withdrawal sleep disturbances as follows:

Active Drinking and Withdrawal. Sleep disturbances associated with alcoholism include increased time required to fall asleep, frequent awakenings, and a decrease in subjective sleep quality associated with daytime fatigue . Abrupt reduction of heavy drinking can trigger alcohol withdrawal syndrome, accompanied by pronounced insomnia with marked sleep fragmentation. Decreased SWS during withdrawal may reduce the amount of restful sleep. It has been suggested that increased REM may be related to the hallucinations that sometimes occur during withdrawal. In patients with severe withdrawal, sleep may consist almost entirely of brief periods of REM interrupted by numerous awakenings.


Executive Home Detox provides a private in home detox for clients who cannot or will not access conventional treatment. EHD observes sleep in their clients and works with the prescribing physician to encourage interventions that will assist the client to have healthy sleep during withdrawal and in early recovery.