Methamphetamine Use and Sleep Effects
Methamphetamine is a Schedule II drug, which means the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) acknowledges that it can be habit-forming, but it has legitimate medical uses, so it continues to be available as a prescription medication.
Most commonly called “meth,” this drug is prescribed for certain mental health conditions like ADHD, but some of the most common side effects include sleep disturbances, which can impact a person’s quality of life.
Learn how, why, and what sleep problems can be caused by meth use, and how to seek the help you need.
Why Does Methamphetamine Affect Sleep?
Meth is commonly associated with substance use disorders because it can be addicting. However, methamphetamine use is approved by the FDA for purposes like treating ADHD.
When meth use is properly managed, it can be very effective at reducing the hyperactivity and other side effects of ADHD.
However, amphetamines like meth are also known to disrupt sleep.
Taking meth can disturb your sleep patterns and also contribute to the development of certain sleep disorders, like sleep apnea. This is because methamphetamine interacts with certain neurotransmitters like noradrenaline, prompting them to rapidly release the dopamine they are storing.
By working this way, meth is able to increase dopamine levels by ten times more than a pleasurable activity, and the result is that people feel more awake and alert.
In someone who has ADHD, meth’s ability to stimulate the body can help them with daytime sleepiness and cognitive impairment.
However, especially in high doses and in those without ADHD, taking amphetamines can contribute to poor sleep quality.
It can even get to the point of sleep deprivation, where the body isn’t getting enough high-quality REM sleep, contributing to other various side effects.
What Sleep Problems Can Meth Cause?
Meth use is widely associated with changes in sleep habits, especially in instances of drug abuse where methamphetamine users take high doses of the drug and/or combine it with other substances.
As a result of taking meth, you might experience a number of sleep-related side effects, including:
- Delayed sleep onset, which means you may lay awake for a long time at night or find yourself tossing and turning when trying to sleep.
- Reduced sleep efficiency, which means you may wake feeling less rested even if your total sleep time isn’t below average.
- Disrupted sleep, which means you may experience random awakenings throughout the night and have trouble getting back to sleep.
While meth is sometimes used to treat conditions like hypersomnia and narcolepsy, which are characterized by daytime sleepiness, abusing meth can actually contribute to the development and worsening of these conditions.
If you were prescribed meth for such a condition and you find that things are actually getting worse, it’s important to talk with your doctor about coping and management techniques.
Are Sleep Problems Caused by Methamphetamine Dangerous?
While poor sleep might not seem like a serious side effect, especially compared to some of the other ways meth affects the body, it’s important not to ignore the signs of sleep disturbance caused by meth.
With long-term use, a person can actually have meth-induced insomnia, which has a domino effect on physical and psychological health.
Meth-induced insomnia is not unlike insomnia caused by other stimulant drugs, but given the addictive nature of meth, you may experience it alongside psychosis and other serious signs of substance abuse that can further impact your health.
The insomniac effects of methamphetamine will result in:
- Trouble getting to sleep and staying asleep
- Daytime drowsiness and sleepiness
- Falling asleep accidentally
- Changes in mood and appetite
- Weight loss or weight gain
- Worsening anxiety and depression
Over time, insomnia leads to sleep deprivation, which comes with a host of risks in itself.
Most notably, sleep deprivation can increase the risk of weight gain, high blood pressure, heart attack, heart disease, and stroke, among other conditions.
Recovering from Sleep Problems Caused by Meth
The sleep problems caused by meth can result in both short-term and long-term impacts on your health, which is why learning to manage them is important.
If you’ve been prescribed meth for any condition, it’s vital to discuss the sleep problems you’re experiencing with your doctor. They can give you advice to improve your overall well-being.
The CDC recommends these tips if you’re experiencing trouble sleeping:
- Try to wake up at a consistent time and get lots of physical activity early in the day.
- Avoid physical activity, caffeine, and other stimuli in the hours leading up to bedtime.
- Create a nighttime routine that helps your mind and body wind down.
- Practice good sleep hygiene by going to bed at a consistent time each night.
- Abstain from alcohol and other substances that can disrupt your sleep.
Completely recovering from the sleep problems caused by meth is only possible if you stop taking the drug.
However, you shouldn’t quit meth “cold turkey,” as meth withdrawal is dangerous.
Instead, if you’re trying to restore healthy sleep and end drug use, you should reach out to a qualified meth recovery center that can guide you through the process.
Treatment programs for meth will be customized to help you conquer your symptoms, including any sleep disorders that may have developed or worsened as a result of meth use.
This may mean that, in addition to support groups to help you handle drug cravings and other symptoms, you may be given therapies and supplements to promote healthy sleeping habits once again.
Is Meth Affecting Your Sleep? Zinnia Health Can Help
Meth’s ability to interact with the central nervous system and promote the release of dopamine makes it a powerful drug for treating various conditions, including ADHD.
However, with many severe side effects — including meth-induced insomnia and other sleep disorders — it’s important that you enlist the help of medical professionals to help you through the coping and recovery process.