How Heroin Affects Sleep

Heroin is a drug synthesized from opium poppy plants, and it produces euphoric and relaxing sensations in users. It is typically injected directly into the blood stream via needles, but users can also smoke or snort heroin. Addiction, physical dependence and overdose are three of the most common risks associated with ongoing heroin use, but the drug also negatively affects sleep patterns. Paradoxically, the drug can cause both insomnia and extreme sleepiness.

Heroin and Sleep

Heroin is a central nervous system depressant that triggers several common effects, including the following:

  • Reduction of sensations of pain
  • Diminished respiratory function
  • Alternating feelings of drowsiness and alertness
  • Extreme sleepiness in higher doses

White man in white shirt with hand on faceHeroin users are often said to be “on the nod,” which is street slang for the sleepy state that occurs during an opiate high. While hypersomnia is an identifiable trait of heroin abuse, the drug actually diminishes the benefits of sleep in several ways, including the following:

  • Decrease in sleep efficiency and quality
  • Inability to experience the different levels of sleep
  • Reduction in sleep-related brain chemistry changes
  • Extreme drowsiness even after extended sleep time
  • Introduction of strange dreams and night terrors

In yet another disruption of sleep patterns, the early stages of heroin use often result in a sleepless condition known as “morphine insomnia” that reduces one’s total sleep hours.

Heroin Addiction Side Effects

Heroin can also affect sleep indirectly through other side effects, including the following:
  • Consuming preoccupation with procuring more heroin
  • Increase in anxiety, sensitivity and emotional instability
  • Compromised immune system more susceptible to sickness and disease
  • Introduction or acceleration of mental health issues

Heroin is also notorious for the difficult withdrawal symptoms that emerge when a person tries to quit. These symptoms also have a profound impact on sleep patterns.

Heroin Addiction Rehab

An addiction to opiates is difficult to break without professional help, which is why rehab is so important. Treatment can include gradual detox or opiate replacement therapy using medications like methadone or buprenorphine. Rehab also utilizes recovery tools to prevent relapse and foster sobriety, which include the following:

  • Concurrent treatment of any mental health issue or mood disorder
  • Behavioral therapies that improve cognitive thinking and responses
  • Individual counseling to identify and address heroin use triggers
  • Psychotherapy to break the psychological addiction to heroin
  • Development of new life skills that encourage a more positive outlook
  • Holistic treatments, such as acupuncture, yoga, meditation and relaxation exercises
  • Group support meetings during and after residential care

Rehab also addresses the many side effects of heroin abuse, including sleep-related issues.


Drug Abuse Helpline

Are you or a loved one struggling with heroin addiction? Start by watching this video, then let our caring counselors help. We are available 24 hours a day on our toll-free helpline to discuss heroin risks, warning signs, treatment options and rehab facilities.

We can also check health insurance policies for rehab coverage. Heroin addiction is a serious issue that requires a rapid response. Please call (877) 345-1887 now.

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Articles posted here are primarily educational and may not directly reflect the offerings at The Oaks. For more specific information on programs at The Oaks, contact us today.