Wellbeing

Health and fitness tips to make the most of your sober month!


A Sober Night's Sleep

By Clare Pooley on

It's Saturday morning, and I've bounced out of bed, leaving the children still slumbering away happily. One of the very best things about being sober, the one I never tire of (please excuse the pun!), is sleep.

For at least a decade, I was a terrible sleeper. I would look at the rest of my family, who'd be happily out for the count for hours, and think how do you DO that? I would get to sleep easily enough, but then I'd wake up at around 3am tossing and turning and unable to drop off again until about ten minutes before my alarm went off.

I blamed my insomnia on the inevitable stresses and strains of modern life. I tried everything to cure my lack of sleep – relaxation and meditation, exercise, aromatherapy pillows and various over-the-counter remedies, but nothing worked.

Then, I quit drinking and, within a few weeks, I was sleeping like a baby and bouncing out of bed in the mornings like the Duracell bunny. Miraculous.

And there are several reasons why ditching the booze can transform your sleeping pattern…

Firstly, whilst alcohol initially helps you fall into a deep sleep (which is why I missed the ends of movies for years), as the alcohol wears off, you move out of deep sleep and into “REM sleep”, which is much lighter and easier to wake from. 

Secondly, your body has to work hard overnight to process all those toxins, which interferes with the quality of your sleep, causing all that tossing, turning and restlessness.

Thirdly, alcohol is a diuretic, so after a few drinks you’re likely to wake up in the night sweating buckets, desperately thirsty and needing a wee.

The problem with all this lack of sleep isn’t just that it makes us feel a bit snoozy the next day, it affects everything – our relationships, our careers, our creativity and our health. And of all the benefits being sober brings, for me, getting lots of (great quality) sleep has been one of the best.

It's made me healthier, happier, more creative and has even made me look better (no more eye bags and dull, tired skin). And it turns out that I’m not alone in finding that great sleep can transform your life.

A recent survey by the National Centre for Social Research found that quality of sleep has by far the strongest association with wellbeing among those elements of our lifestyle that we can control. Regularly getting a good night’s sleep makes us happier than a fifty percent pay rise or socialising with friends and family. Whoop whoop!

BUT, be warned, when you first quit you may find getting to sleep tricky. Don't worry, that'll pass. If you’re still having problems dropping off after a few days, sleep-inducing lavender works a treat.

So, sleep well Sober Heroes, and enjoy that virtual fifty percent pay rise…

Visit Clare’s blog read her debut novel, The Sober Diaries, which tells an honest and comical account of a year in Clare’s alcohol-free life.