Methamphetamine (N-methylamphetamine) is a medication that can be used to treat ADHD, obesity, and sometimes sleep disorders like narcolepsy (under the brand name Desoxyn).
It is also a significant drug of abuse that is manufactured in private laboratories. It goes by various street names, including meth, crystal meth, crank, glass, and shards.
Because it is a very potent central nervous system stimulant, it can significantly interfere with normal sleep patterns.
Meth’s Mechanism of Action
Methamphetamine is classified as a central nervous system stimulant, most often grouped with amphetamines. Taking the drug results in the enhancement of the actions of several different neurotransmitters. It is also believed that these neurotransmitters are released in greater quantities when someone uses the drug.
Neurotransmitters affected by meth use include excitatory neurotransmitters, such as variations of glutamate, dopamine, norepinephrine, serotonin, and others. The mechanism of action leads to its medicinal and psychoactive effects.
The effects of taking meth are dose-dependent, such that people using the drug in medicinal amounts will experience increased concentration, amplified energy, and mild feelings of euphoria. These effects are paradoxical in individuals with ADHD, as they are more likely to still experience increased concentration and attention but also a decrease in impulsivity and hyperactivity.
Those who abuse the drug will take it in large amounts. They will often binge on it, leading to significant feelings of invulnerability, euphoria, delusions, psychosis, hyperactivity, problem paying attention, trouble sleeping, and significant appetite loss.
Tolerance & Abuse
Tolerance to central nervous system stimulants like meth increases rapidly, particularly in people who abuse the drug.
People often use meth in a manner that results in inefficient delivery of the drug into the central nervous system. They may grind it up and then snort, smoke, or inject the resulting powder. The effects of the drug are felt rapidly, and they wear off quickly when it is used in these manners.
Users will repeatedly administer the drug, leading to increased tolerance to its effects. Tolerance leads to an increased cycle of bingeing, which accelerates the cycle of drug abuse.
Sleep and Meth Use
Even people who use meth for medical reasons may experience a disruption of their normal sleep cycle due to its stimulant effects.
People who binge on the drug for extended periods will often not be able to sleep for one or more days at a time while they are under the effects of the drug.
When the individual stops using the drug, the neurotransmitters affected by its mechanism of action are depleted, and they may then begin to experience drowsiness and lethargy.
They may “crash” by sleeping for significant periods. However, the effects of the drug may affect the quality of the individual’s sleep.
Effects of Meth on Sleep Quality
When used in medicinal doses for the treatment of narcolepsy, methamphetamine appears to allow these individuals to achieve relatively normal periods of rapid eye movement (REM) sleep.
People who abuse the drug experience decreased quality of sleep and decreased REM sleep. They may also experience very vivid and disturbing dreams when they sleep.
Those who abuse the drug may experience irregular sleep patterns. Many chronic users of meth exhibit sleep patterns that are similar to their pattern of drug abuse. They go for extended periods without sleeping while under the influence of the drug and then go through short periods where they may sleep for a long time, but the quality of their sleep is usually significantly reduced.
Meth may produce paradoxical sleep deficiency syndrome (reduced REM sleep).
“Significant reductions in REM sleep are associated with a higher propensity to develop other mental health disorders. Lack of REM sleep may also increase the propensity for other issues, including irritability and restlessness, and it may lead to cognitive problems that can include issues with learning and memory.”
How to Sleep After Meth Use
Meth is a dangerous drug, and if you’ve ever wondered, “does meth keep you awake?” The answer is a resounding yes. Meth is notorious for its stimulating properties, and it’s not a matter of whether or not you can sleep – the question is how long does meth keep you awake. The answer to that question is that it depends on the person and how much meth they’ve consumed. The dangerous stimulant drug has been known to keep people up for several days, which is why many turn to depressants like alcohol or benzodiazepines to fall asleep. However, since stimulants mute the effects of these drugs, you could end up taking too much and experiencing a fatal overdose.
It begs the question of how to sleep after meth use. The simple answer is to avoid using meth. However, many people addicted to the drug are willing to deal with the adverse side effects to get their fix. Unfortunately, many people who use meth continue to do so only to avoid the “crash.” If you’ve been using meth, there is good news – if you stop using the drug, your sleep rhythm will improve over time.
Can you sleep on meth? Does meth make you sleepy? No. So, falling asleep on meth is a challenge, and you’ll need to learn some natural techniques to help you achieve rest. One such way is lowering the temperature in the house. When you cool off the room and snuggle with a blanket, it makes falling asleep a little easier. You can also focus on the 4-7-8 breathing method, which promotes calmness and relaxation. If it’s daytime, you should try to stay awake until it gets dark so that you don’t experience the same problems moving forward.
When you’re attempting these methods, avoid looking at your clock. The more you look at it, the more stress you put on yourself. Not to mention, the light can also affect the progress you’ve made. While some people need silence, others may benefit from relaxing music. Obviously, don’t put on some Metallica or heavy metal, but some Buddhist music or relaxing Jazz could do the trick. Make sure to turn off all electronics as well.
Unfortunately, your meth habits are going to cause significant problems when falling asleep. By implementing these methods, it can help you achieve the sleep your body needs. If you’re still having trouble, try aromatherapy, which involves essential oils. It can help with relaxation. Some popular scents include lavender, peppermint, and damask rose. Lastly, if none of these natural methods to fall asleep on meth work, melatonin, a natural sleep-aid, might be your final option.
Sleep is the process that allows our body to heal. When you starve it from one of the most important functions, you open yourself up to disease, injuries that occur due to exhaustion, and other significant health problems. You put yourself at risk of long-term harm by not getting the sleep you need. Unfortunately, we know it’s not that simple to sleep on meth. Even more, we know the unique challenges of trying to stop a drug you’ve become addicted to using.
We understand that falling asleep isn’t easy, but that’s not the only adverse effect meth will have on your life. If you’ve reached a point where you want to stop the drug and fear the withdrawal symptoms or crash, help is available. Meth withdrawal is unpredictable. Even if you’ve hardly used the drug over a prolonged period, you’re at risk of developing a severe crash. On the contrary, a person who uses meth heavily over the same period may experience zero withdrawal symptoms. Again, it’s an unpredictable process. For that reason, you must seek help.
The diagnosis of withdrawal from stimulants like meth may include symptoms that affect the quality of sleep. People undergoing withdrawal from meth may experience insomnia or hypersomnia (extended periods of sleeping or extended periods of sleepiness). They may also experience very unpleasant and vivid dreams when they do sleep.
These symptoms may continue for several weeks or longer, depending on the extent of the person’s stimulant use disorder as a result of their meth abuse.
Issues with a significant reduction in sleep quality occur in a large number of individuals who are undergoing withdrawal from meth. Over time, people in recovery who remain abstinent from meth demonstrate an increase in their overall quality of sleep; however, studies suggest that even after four weeks of abstinence from meth, many people may still display reduced quality of sleep compared to healthy individuals.
Formal Sleep Disorders and Meth Abuse
Research studies have indicated that individuals with stimulant use disorders have significantly more issues with daytime sleepiness and poor quality of sleep than individuals without these disorders.
According to the APA, there may be a relationship between the development of sleep disorders and chronic stimulant abuse. Chronic abuse of meth has been empirically demonstrated to produce significant alterations in the brain. It may even produce damage to various portions of the brain that can affect the long-term quality of an individual’s sleep cycle.
Moreover, individuals who chronically abuse methamphetamine are at a greater risk to develop serious mental health conditions, such as psychotic conditions. These individuals typically have poor sleep habits and reduced overall quality of sleep.
Treatment for Sleep Disorders
The use of medications like benzodiazepines or mild stimulants like Provigil (modafinil) is typically considered only a short-term solution for most individuals with sleep disorders.
The preferred approach is to use therapy that includes teaching sleep hygiene techniques (see below) and other skills to help the individual develop habits that facilitate sleep.
Herbs, such as different types of herbal tea and vitamins, may help to improve the quality of an individual’s sleep. However, these remedies are not reliable and may not work for everyone.
The best long-term solution for sleep issues associated with meth abuse includes long-term abstinence, the continued practice of therapeutic techniques like sleep hygiene, and stress management techniques, such as diaphragmatic breathing and progressive muscle relaxation.
Engaging in moderate exercise (if approved by a physician) and eating a healthy diet can also help.
Therapeutic techniques, such as hypnosis, may also be useful in helping the person recover some of the quality of their sleep.
What Is Sleep Hygiene?
The use of sleep hygiene, along with stress management and other techniques learned in therapy, can help an individual recover some level of a regular sleep cycle following long-term meth abuse.
Sleep Hygiene Program Checklist:
- Maintain a consistent routine of going to bed
- Only go to bed when tired or when it is time to sleep
- Don’t perform stimulating activities before bed
- Limit the use of caffeinated beverages
- Avoid napping during the day
- Make sure the sleep environment is conducive for sleep
- Engage in other daily habits that promote healthy sleep cycles