Dream Catcher

When going through alcohol withdrawal, there are many uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms that can make things very difficult and make it very tempting to drink again.

These can include mild symptoms such as the shakes, major ones like the wet brain, and a whole range of other symptoms as we go through the multiple stages of the withdrawal timeline.

One that is often disregarded or neglected to mention though, is the vivid dreams alcohol withdrawal can lead to.

For those who are unaware or not expecting, these dreams can highly be disturbing, and prevents us from sleeping, or even tempt us to drink again just to sleep deeply and avoid experiencing them again.

But what causes these vivid dreams, and are they something to be concerned about?

Let’s have a look at the science behind it.

What Causes Vivid Dreams When Quitting Alcohol?

Drowning Woman

Alcohol depresses the functions of our brains – this is why drinking late at night often leads to us falling asleep more quickly than ever.

The trouble is, this causes the brain to go into overdrive, working harder than ever to achieve the same functions and processes. When we continue drinking regularly, this is unnoticeable because of the alcohol’s effects in depressing our central nervous system.

However, when we quit drinking, it takes a while for the brain’s activity to return to normal, which means that without alcohol depressing them, our brain and CNS get overactive and overstimulated.

It is this same issue that leads to sweating, muscle spasms, irritation, and even seizures in those of us with serious alcohol withdrawal symptoms. This same overstimulation leads to unusual brain activity when sleeping, including switching between REM sleep and non-REM sleep abruptly and erratically.

It is also thought that heavy alcohol use reduces the amount of REM sleep we experience each night, but that when we quit alcohol, REM sleep rebounds and is present more than ever. Since REM sleep is when most dreaming occurs, this is likely also a major factor.

Whereas vivid dreams after drinking alcohol are also possible, dreams for those overcoming alcohol addiction can be extremely vivid to the point of being indistinguishable from real life, and can often be violent or scary in nature, likely due to the accompanying agitation.

This is considered by many in the clinical psychology field to be a leading cause of relapse, which is why managing your sleep correctly and getting all the help you can at this difficult stage is crucial. 

How Long do Vivid Dreams Last After Quitting Alcohol?

Luckily, this phenomenon is only a temporary result of the imbalances in our brain’s chemistry caused by both heavy alcohol use, and alcohol cessation.

Typically, the brain and our sleeping patterns will return to normal within 1-2 weeks after quitting alcohol. In extreme cases of long-term drinking this may stretch to 2-3 weeks, but rarely longer.

These vivid dreams can be uncomfortable and stressful, especially when they are violent nightmares accompanied by agitation and insomnia. This experience can often encourage us to drink again in order to avoid the dreams, but it’s important to remember that these alcohol vivid dreams will be gone very soon and then we will feel more free and healthy than ever.

Those going through our home detox programmes can be prescribed alcohol detox medications that help to manage the more difficult symptoms, and this often includes sedatives in order to maintain a healthy sleep pattern and prevent vivid dreams.

Even those who are quitting alcohol alone without professional help can consider herbal sleeping tablets or melatonin supplements, as well as regular exercise in order to make sleep come more naturally.

Gain 24/7 Support for Overcoming Alcohol Addiction

For those who need help overcoming alcohol addiction but don’t have the time or financial resources to attend an inpatient rehab facility, the time of having to face your problems alone is over.

Here at Home-Detox, we offer the UK’s #1 alcohol detox from home programme.

This allows you to recover from the comfort of your own home while having access to the following:

  • GP consultations and 24/7 access to nurses and therapists via our helpline
  • Prescription medications to help with sleep and other withdrawal symptoms
  • CBT sessions and support groups
  • Referrals to NHS services or local support groups if necessary
  • An ongoing aftercare programme to prevent relapse
  • Nutritionists and fitness trainers to help you stay distracted, busy and healthy

Are you ready to get the help you need to your life back on track from the comfort of your own home with minimal interruption to your daily routine?

Call us on 0333 444 0315 now or send us a message via our contact page!

It’s never too late to get the help you need!


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