Sleeping And Cocaine: Does Cocaine Disrupt Sleep?
- Cocaine And Dopamine
- Circadian Rhythm Disruption
- Withdrawal And Sleep Disturbances
- Effects Of Sleep Deprivation
Even a single dose of cocaine can cause sleep disruption. Cocaine interrupts sleep in several ways, including dopamine production and circadian rhythm disruption.
Cocaine is a powerful stimulant drug that often causes cocaine addiction. Often, people abuse cocaine because one of the effects of cocaine is wakefulness.
However, cocaine abuse doesn’t simply promote wakefulness in the short term. While a cocaine high may only last for 30 minutes, sleep issues may last much longer.
Cocaine can interrupt sleep patterns, disrupt sleep quality, and even lead to long-term sleep disorders.
Cocaine And Dopamine
Cocaine use may cause poor sleep for several reasons. The biggest reason comes from how cocaine interacts with dopamine.
Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that affects motivation and alertness.
When dopamine attaches to a dopamine receptor, it causes feelings of happiness and accomplishment. This system helps reinforce positive behaviors such as exercising.
However, drug abuse hijacks this reward system. It blocks the reuptake of dopamine, prolonging euphoric feelings.
Cocaine dependence happens because the brain begins to rely on this process.
In normal amounts, dopamine provides enough energy for day-to-day tasks. In extreme amounts, it causes sleep disruption.
Mixing cocaine with alcohol or other drugs (such as cannabis, amphetamines, or opioids), can cause further complications because these substances also interact with dopamine.
Circadian Rhythm Disruption
Cocaine abuse may also cause long-term sleep disruption. It does so by interrupting the circadian rhythm.
Dopamine plays a part in the circadian cycle. Usually, the brain produces the most dopamine in the morning. At night, dopamine production slows down.
Drug use interrupts this process. Many people use cocaine in the evenings, so their brains experience a dopamine spike right when the brain should begin winding down.
Many hours later, often early in the morning, the brain may send signals that cause sleepiness instead.
Cocaine Withdrawal And Sleep Disturbances
For example, cocaine use can cause occult insomnia. During the early abstinence period of recovery, people often report that their sleep quality has improved.
However, EEG tests (brain wave tests) and polysomnographic tests (sleep studies), report the opposite. People recovering from cocaine addiction often miscalculate their sleep efficiency.
Though total sleep time may increase, the early abstinence period reduces the quality of that sleep. This can cause sleepiness from cocaine use.
Effects Of Sleep Deprivation
Humans have four sleep stages. Usually, people cycle through each stage multiple times per night. The first two phases consist of light sleep rather than deep sleep.
The third stage is called slow-wave sleep. At this point, brain waves are at their slowest. The fourth stage is REM sleep, or rapid eye movement sleep.
Much like alcohol abuse, cocaine use interrupts the final two stages. However, the brain’s neurons need both of these stages to work effectively.
When these stages are interrupted, the resulting sleep abnormalities can harm the person’s physical and mental health.
Some effects of sleep deprivation include:
- attention deficits
- slow thinking
- poor reflexes
- poor memory
- mood changes
- poor decision-making
How Do Doctors Treat Cocaine-Related Insomnia?
During addiction treatment, doctors may prescribe certain medications for cocaine-related insomnia. A medication called modafinil, for example, can combat daytime sleepiness.
Generally, however, the best treatment for this kind of sleep deprivation is long-term abstinence from cocaine.
After the early abstinence period, people in recovery from cocaine addiction may experience worsening insomnia.
In fact, cocaine correlates to sleep issues for up to three weeks after stopping the drug.
Heal From Cocaine Addiction
Substance abuse can create many side effects and difficulties. However, substance use can be treated through proper care and evidence-based strategies.
Spring Hill Recovery Center offers personalized addiction treatment for people with cocaine use disorder.
If you or a loved one may have an addiction to cocaine, contact Spring Hill Recovery Center to learn more about your treatment options.
Written by Spring Hill Editorial Team
©2022 Spring Hill Recovery Center | All Rights Reserved
This page does not provide medical advice.
- National Institute On Drug Abuse — Chronic Cocaine Abusers Have Occult Insomnia in Early Abstinence https://archives.drugabuse.gov/news-events/nida-notes/2008/03/chronic-cocaine-abusers-have-occult-insomnia-in-early-abstinence
- National Library Of Medicine — Abstinence-Related Changes In Sleep During Treatment For Cocaine Dependence https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24315572/
- National Library Of Medicine — Dopamine: A Modulator of Circadian Rhythms in the Central Nervous System https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5376559/
- National Institute Of Neurological Disorders And Stroke — Brain Basics: Understanding Sleep https://www.ninds.nih.gov/Disorders/Patient-Caregiver-Education/Understanding-Sleep
- Sleep Research Society — Sleep Perception And Misperception In Chronic Cocaine Users During Abstinence https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24315572/