Getting Better Sleep After You Stop Drinking Alcohol

getting sleep after quitting drinking alcohol detox insomnia remedies

In episode 271 of the Elevation Recovery Podcast, Chris Scott and Matt Finch discuss the relationship between alcohol and sleep patterns, how sleep is affected after quitting an addiction, and how to get better sleep during recovery.

You’ll be provided with several proven strategies and remedies for alcohol-detox insomnia, anxiety, and restlessness, including things like supplements, natural medicines, sleep habits, and much more.

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Chris Scott: I got to the point that I thought I needed red wine every night in order to go to sleep, and that was a deep-seated belief. So there was a psychological element for me. So I would go into my bed, sometimes trying to quit, and I would think, "Well, I didn't have we red wine, so I'm not going to go to sleep." And it became a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Matt Finch: So if you're going through this agitated, sympathetic nervous system from quitting a sedating substance, then you quit, and now all of a sudden the sedating substance is gone, goes in the opposite direction. And so instead of sedated, you're excited. Well, what are you going to do in that situation?

Announcer: Thanks for tuning into the Elevation Recovery Podcast, your hub for addiction recovery strategies, hosted by Chris Scott and Matt Finch.

Matt Finch: Welcome everyone to episode 273 of Elevation Recovery. This is Matt Finch and Chris Scott coming at you with one of the most common questions we get, which is, how do I get to sleep when I'm quitting drinking alcohol? Or when I'm quitting opioids? When I'm quitting benzos? So commonly, we get this question, "I'm afraid to detox, because I won't be able to sleep. And if I don't sleep, I won't be able to function at work. I won't be able to take care of my kids." So almost always people that are physiologically dependent on any type of CNS depressant, the main one's alcohol, muscle relaxers, opioids, benzos, and some sleep medicines, too, detoxing from those can cause hardcore insomnia.

Matt Finch: When you're taking a CNS depressant, it's stuffing down your central nervous system, it's depressing, depressing, depressing your CNS, and then your neurons adapt to the presence of the substance, and that becomes your new normal. But then when you do a abrupt cessation of either alcohol or the other CNS depressant drug, your CNS doesn't go back to baseline, it's skyrockets and rebounds in the opposite direction. What goes down must come up, and that causes a rebound effect of your sympathetic nervous system, which leads to the fight or flight amygdala response, cascade of stress hormones, cortisol, adrenaline, noradrenaline. You can't sleep, you can't sleep, and it's awful.

Matt Finch: So we're going to cover, pretty deeply, not super deeply, but we're going to give you lots of different tactics, strategies, concepts, resources, ideas, and tools on how do I get to sleep? How do I combat alcohol detox insomnia, opioid withdrawal induced insomnia, and so on and so far? So with that, I'll just open it up to you, Chris.

Chris Scott: Absolutely. And I'll try to keep this decently concise. I sometimes go off in tangents here. But sleep was one of the biggest issues for me when I was a heavy drinker. And then when I quit drinking, which, back in 2014, I went and professionally detoxed, and they gave me a script of Ativan, which is benzodiazepine, to make sure I wouldn't have any seizures or severe withdrawal symptoms, because I was drinking so much. So some people are the type of drinker where they binge once every couple weeks, and then maybe they regain some normalcy, although they're probably still accumulating some nutrient deficiencies and some imbalances. But they weren't like me, where I was literally every night I was drinking in order to go to sleep, or so I thought.

Chris Scott: Now, of course, I went through the binge phase in college. And then by the time I was a young professional, I was increasingly relying on alcohol to relax, or so I thought. And the reason I say, "Or so I thought," is that alcohol doesn't help to generate restorative sleep. In fact, studies show that just one glass of wine with dinner can significantly disrupt REM sleep at night. And some scientists think that the reason some people have hallucinations when they withdraw from alcohol is because the brain is trying to generate REM sleep, which would involve dreaming, while you're awake, which is obviously inconvenient and terrifying. But the brain goes, "Well, there's no more alcohol, so we need to generate this REM sleep that we've been suppressing for weeks or months, or years or whatever."

Chris Scott: So that's an interesting theory. But back to the practical side, I think it helps to have an understanding intellectually, or at least consciously of what's going on when we use a CNS depressant. In this case, I'll talk about alcohol. You're the opioid expert, and that was your experience. But I can say with alcohol, I got to the point that I thought I needed red wine every night in order to go to sleep, and that was a deep seated belief. So there was a psychological element for me. So I would go into my bed, sometimes trying to quit, and I would think, "Well, I didn't have red wine, so I'm not going to go to sleep." And it became a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Chris Scott: But what I also didn't understand is that there was a physiological layer there. And that it's, as you said, you kind of said this in the context of the central nervous system, but specifically with the neurotransmitter systems involved, when you rely on ethanol, which is the chemical compound, alcohol, which is structurally almost identical to GABA, the primary calming neurotransmitter in the brain, to get sleep or to relax. The brain will, over time, to the extent and frequency, duration, severity that you do it, it will turn down that dial. And the dial doesn't get turned right back up when you quit.

Chris Scott: So you end up with a mismatch of two important neurotransmitters, there's GABA, which is calming, dampens electrical activity in the brain associated with relaxation and sleep. Although, as we'll see, it's really just unconsciousness not restorative sleep, not deep sleep or REM sleep. And glutamate, which is the chemical that increases electrical activity, and it's required for us to be alert, for us to be excited enough, to do things and motivated. Obviously, it's not dopamine, but we need electrical activity in our brain. So it's not like one's good and the other's bad. We want a balance.

Chris Scott: And they have a relation to each other kind of like a seesaw. So what happens when you quit drinking, abruptly, in the absence of a taper using either alcohol or benzodiazepines, is that you end up with excess glutamate, the stress chemical, the heightened electrical activity chemical, and a deficiency in GABA. Because your brain just hasn't turned the dial on that up in a while, because it just expects, it's anticipating that the ethanol is going to come in and sub into that same receptor as GABA. So that your GABA activity would be normal, but your production of GABA, per se, would not be normal. It would be deficient.

Chris Scott: And so that's another way of explaining what's going on in the brain. And so in the short term, assuming that someone has moderate to severe withdrawal or they're at risk for that, that's why benzodiazepines, which are also structurally similar to GABA are used, you switch to those, and then you have a tapered or reduced dosage of that over a span of a few days or a week, depending on the severity of the problem. And then you're off of alcohol at least.

Chris Scott: But some people still have a problem after that period, as I did, with sleeping I had trouble sleeping for many months. And the reason for that is that maybe your brain has slightly turned up the dial on GABA, to the point where you're not having seizures from glutamate toxicity or extremely excess glutamate, but it doesn't turn the dial up enough for you to feel normal. So you don't feel relaxed. You can't sleep well. At least you're out of the woods, when it comes to severe withdrawal symptoms, but you just don't feel like you're... You're not able to generate enough sleep. You have all the symptoms of low GABA, perhaps you have some panic attacks or some generalized anxiety or social anxiety that you didn't used to have.

Chris Scott: And so then the question becomes, how do you help to naturally boost your GABA levels? And that's something that drugs are not really able to do. We have harsh, very effective in the short term, chemical drugs. Having taken Ativan, having taken a sleeping pill once, I think someone let me an Ambien at one point, back when I was a heavy drinker, and I used it instead of drinking. And I thought, "Oh wow, I was able to sleep." And to be precise, in retrospect, I can say, "Wow, I was able to generate unconsciousness for eight or nine hours. And it felt better than not generating unconsciousness, but it feels a world of difference from generating actual restorative sleep, which is what I'm able to do now in the absence of alcohol in my life, and in the absence of any other prescription drug.

Chris Scott: So in order to increase GABA activity, that can be a bit of a longer term project. However, fixing certain nutrient deficiencies are often the best way and the most effective way and the fastest way to go. And we can talk about some of the nutrients involved, but one of the biggest ones for me was magnesium. And when I started taking magnesium, I think it was magnesium taurate that I tried first, and then I switched to citrate at some point. And then I switched to magnesium threonate when that became available, because I'm a big fan of that.

Chris Scott: But basically increasing the magnesium helps to calm the nervous system. It's involved in 300 different biological processes in the body. So it's not just sleep. It's not just GABA, but magnesium, vitamin B6, and L-glutamine are precursors for increasing GABA levels naturally. So a lot of multivitamins will have B6 or B complexes. L-glutamine is a powder that I've talked about in other episodes and on for helping with alcohol cravings and blood sugar swings, which are obviously a big deal for a lot of people quitting drinking.

Chris Scott: And magnesium is something that I think everyone should take. The soil's depleted in magnesium. Compared to a 100 years ago, there's almost none in there. And so it's something that my parents have actually benefited from. They've never had an alcohol problem. A lot of my friends have benefited from, but the first time I took it, I felt a world of difference. And as it turns out, I think it's just one drink increases magnesium excretion by the body by like 30 or 40%. So you can imagine what 10 or 15 or 20 or 35 drinks, as I've had experience with in the past, would do to your magnesium levels over time, over a matter of years. So that's why I had such a pronounced response to that.

Chris Scott: Now at the same time, there might be people who don't need to go the benzodiazepine route. They don't need the prescription drugs. Maybe they have two or three glasses of wine every night, and they've done it for a long time. They're still accumulating some level of deficiencies, and their brain is still turning the dial down on GABA, but they can benefit from going right to nutrient repair. So the taper thing is it's really a individualized question of whether you need to go detox. Some people need to go away for a while and be monitored, like I did. Other people can do an alcohol taper. Other people can just quit, spontaneously decide to stop, and they don't have any withdrawal, and that's great.

Chris Scott: But the majority of people, regardless of how they quit, depending on the severity of the physiological dependence will have some withdrawal symptoms. And I think it's important to know that a lot of those withdrawal symptoms stem from the brain turning the dial down on GABA, as an adaptation to the continued and accumulated presence of alcohol and expected presence of alcohol over time.

Chris Scott: It's like a lot of people have a witching hour, at a certain time, alcohol embeds itself in the circadian and orcadian rhythms. We have so many rhythms and cycles that we kind of take for granted. We're kind of doing similar things at the same time each day, we're creatures of habit. So it can be hard to excise something, especially when it gets embedded in our biochemistry, in our central nervous system, in our neurons, and as part of our neurotransmission system. So you should be compassionate to yourself as you do this and approach it as a sort of puzzle. It's not often that someone spontaneously quits and then just feels better with a substance like alcohol or with opiates.

Matt Finch: When I was 24 years old, this had been about, let's see, probably almost 10 years of cannabis addiction. And by that point, probably two and a half or three years of alcohol addiction, at various points abuse, at various points hardcore binge drinking, at various points physiological dependence, always psychological dependence. And so this was the first time I had ever gone to see a doctor for anything related to addiction and mental health issues.

Matt Finch: I remember I was really against it for myself about... I grew up in a holistic household and just grew up hearing from my parents how awful medications were. And so that was part of my conditioning. So I didn't want to be on anything, ever. Which is funny, because here I am just chugging alcohol, cannabis, and by that point I'd even got into pills like some Vicodins and Norcos here or there. What else did I do? I had done psychedelics, and here I am, like, "I don't want to get on a doctor approved medicine for mental health."

Matt Finch: Meanwhile, I was like a garbage head. I would just put any substance in me, a lot of different ones. So one of the ladies that I worked with, my manager and friend, in fact, she suggested, I was telling her, I'm like, "I can't quit drinking. I have anxiety. I have depression. It's just too hard." And so she had recently got on a medicine called Remeron, that's the brand name for mirtazapine, which is an SNRI antidepressant, I believe, or it's something like that. It might not be an SNRI, but I believe it increases serotonin and maybe norepinephrine.

Matt Finch: So, anyways, she loved it. She said she was super depressed, she had anxiety, and Remeron also really helps with sleep. Matter of fact, she said the shit just knocked her out completely at night. And so her testimonial of going to a doctor and getting just one little medicine, she really sold me on, maybe I'll just go talk to a doctor and just see, see what my options are.

Matt Finch: So I made an appointment and my doctor, who was also, he wasn't technically a psychiatrist, he was a family physician, but he called himself a jack of all trades. So I remember I went into the specific room that he had for psychiatry patients. It wasn't like one of the medical rooms. There was a nice little couch and it was kind of like a therapeutic psychiatry therapy environment. So I told him my symptoms, alcoholism, depression, anxiety. He prescribed me 12.5 milligrams of Paxil CR, the name brand. He had a bunch of samples there for me, and he prescribed me Valium, in the generic form of that one, diazepam, five milligram diazepam.

Matt Finch: And I had tried the 10 milligram ones before just partying and stuff, and I didn't really like it. I didn't like Valium. So I was thinking, "Okay, well, I'll just take the antidepressant for a little while, see how that goes. And maybe take a few of the benzos."

Matt Finch: But the reason I'm bringing the story up is, my doctor, when I told him how much I was drinking, he was shaking his head. He's like, "Oh no, that's so bad for you. Alcohol's so toxic." He told me that Valium, diazepam, and other benzos, it was basically, I'm paraphrasing, but he said it was a solid state alcohol tablet, basically. He's like, "It basically does almost the same exact stuff as alcohol. It just doesn't have a lot of the negative side effects of blacking out, getting super dehydrated, making really dumb decisions, spiking your blood sugar up, inducing hypomania."

Matt Finch: So come to find out later on, when I started to go to AA meetings, a lot of the people at AA, the meetings I went to, went to that same doctor, and he was getting all these people with alcohol use disorder hooked on benzos. He wasn't telling anybody that it was potentially addictive. He wasn't telling anybody you could get a dependence to it.

Matt Finch: So I started to take those and I didn't feel like drinking, Chris. Oh, my goodness. I was taking two or three, usually three, tablets a day, five milligrams in the morning, five milligrams in the afternoon, five milligrams in the evening, along with my one tablet of the SSRI. I loved that stuff. I didn't have any alcohol detox. I felt great. I wasn't depressed. I wasn't anxious. I had a huge appetite. Valiums and other benzos, but especially Valium and Ativan and Xanax, those three gave me the munchies. So I like had a great mood. I had a great relaxed breathing, great appetite. It was amazing.

Matt Finch: The problem was, is he gave me a 30 day prescription, 90 Valiums. After 30 days straight at taking it, I was like, "Okay, I'm I don't need another prescription." I think I even had a refill. But then all of a sudden, I started to go through withdrawal again when I stopped taking them. I'm like, "What the fuck's going on?" And then called my friend. And she was like, "Dude, you're going through Valium withdrawal." I was like, "Oh great. I use this stuff to get off alcohol. And now I got a new problem."

Matt Finch: So long story short with that, benzos always worked throughout all the years I had not just alcohol addiction, but opioid addiction, muscle relaxer addictions, cannabis addiction, whatever it was, Valium or any other type of benzo was always such a good, useful tool for me. But then I had learned the hard way that I only wanted to use them for maybe three to five days afterwards. Or maybe a little longer if I was coming off opioids, but then taper off the Valium. So I learned how to do it.

Matt Finch: So, yeah, there's tons of different medicines that can work for opioid withdrawal insomnia, alcohol withdrawal insomnia. Some of them can be super addictive. Some of them can be moderately addictive. I've had a lot of clients that have done really well with either alcohol or opioid withdrawal insomnia or benzo withdrawal insomnia with trazodone or phenobarbital, baclofen, gabapentin, there's so many different ones. The problem is, you have to go see your doctor and get a prescription, that's one of the problems. Another problem is they can become habit forming.

Matt Finch: Another problem is medications aren't the healthiest thing in the world for you. Your liver has to process them. So then after getting through the initial acute detox phase, acute alcohol detox, acute opioid or benzo detox, et cetera, for some people, if they have moderate or severe dependence, probably the only way they're probably going to be able to get some good sleep is a short term medication.

Matt Finch: But there's a lot of people that don't need that. I have a recent client that I help. I think he's like four months alcohol free now. He didn't need any medicines at all. He was like a kind of binge drinker, off and on, definitely not enough to be dependent. He was young and otherwise pretty healthy. So he just used supplements. And he had a great time, from the very first day not drinking, he didn't have any anxiety problems. But that's much less common, usually, people will have severe insomnia or moderate, or at least mild insomnia.

Matt Finch: So medications are a way for some people to go. Then there's the supplements. I took some notes on that. You brought up some of my favorites, magnesium. The first time I ever started to get help for alcoholism, like I said, I went to the doctor, but even before that, there was a phase where I was detoxing. I didn't have any medicines or anything like that. I went and got acupuncture from my mom's friend, which really relaxed me.

Matt Finch: She told me, or she told my mom, because I was debilitated to get me some magnesium, if she didn't already have some. So that very night, I think I took like 800 milligrams of magnesium somewhere around there. And that was the first time I'd ever taken magnesium. And all of a sudden, all that tension, that alcohol withdrawal anxiety, tension, and insomnia, like just, Ugh. Well, after the acupuncture, I felt somewhat better. After that magnesium, I slept through the whole entire night. And I woke up feeling significantly better. I was like, "Holy moly."

Matt Finch: And you said, also, you brought a GABA and you brought a B6. There's a supplement that Dr. Ken Starr makes, as you know, he's a twice board certified addiction medicine physician, with his own supplement company. Some of the ones that I've seen work the best for alcohol withdrawal insomnia, and sometimes opioids too, is one of his products called Rest. Rest is amazing, super relaxing aminos in there. And then also your supplement BioRebalance Restore. Another one, super duper hardcore chamomile tea, many packets of chamomile. So those are some of the best supplements, L-theanine.

Matt Finch: And then some other things people can do when they're quitting is, for instance, if you're going through this agitated sympathetic nervous system from quitting a sedating substance, then you quit, and now of a sudden the sedating substance is gone, goes in the opposite direction. And so instead of sedated, you're excited from that excess glutamate, from decreased GABA, depending on the substance, maybe decreased serotonin and/or endorphin. Well, what are you going to do in that situation? Maybe supplements alone won't work. What do you do? Jump in a super hot bath, load that bath with tons of either Epsom salt or ancient minerals, bath flakes, some type of magnesium crystals or flakes, put some lavender and/or chamomile, essential oils in that bad boy. And soaking it for like 20, 30, 40, 50, 60 minutes.

Matt Finch: I find that supplements can definitely work better over the long term. As you know, for post-acute withdrawal, supplements are amazing. Acute withdrawal, maybe not as amazing as medications. But these baths, and I feel bad for people that don't have a bath at their home when they're detoxing, because, oftentimes, just sitting in the bath for as long as you can, that is going to bring down that excited state, that excited sympathetic nervous system. And at least, temporarily, for the next probably few hours, most likely, if not more, that's going to activate, to the extreme degree, your parasympathetic nervous system.

Matt Finch: The sympathetic nervous system is the fight or flight, PSNS, parasympathetic division of the autonomic nervous system, rest, digest, repair, immune boosting, rejuvenation, restoration, recharge. I love how they all start with R. Other things I wrote down here, too, are like binaural beats with headphones or isochronic tones, where you put on some type of earbuds or headphones. Right here, these are sleepphones, and I also have these noise cancelers. Binaural delta beats or theta wave beats, or isochronic tones that create theta waves or delta waves, in agitated sympathetic response, usually people are going to be in high beta waves, just, high beta waves that's can cause anxiousness.

Matt Finch: Then when you come down to alpha waves, then you start to have this meditative, idling, relaxed kind of like centered and balanced and grounded peaceful state. But then below alpha waves, you get down to theta waves, that's the waves just above delta, and deltas the sleep waves. So binaural beats, what I've done before, never during detox, I didn't know about this stuff, but what I've done before to get really relaxed, is actually put on these sleep phones and have Delta waves or theta waves, binaural beats at a kind of low or medium volume, while I'm in the bath while I'm soaking, and I just don't get the top of my head wet.

Matt Finch: That's a synergistic stack. So I imagine someone going through like alcohol or drug induced withdrawal, fight or flight insomnia. And then I see them drinking like a scoop of Rest with water and/or a scoop of BioRebalance Restore with water, with some extra magnesium threonate or whatever magnesium the person has. And then getting into a super warm or hot Epsom salt bath with like four to six cups of Epsom salt, with some binaural beats playing either delta waves or theta waves, then rinsing off of cool water, taking the headphones off first, putting on a cozy robe, and then drinking like four to six tea bags of camomile tea. And/or they even make combinations with like passion flower, chamomile, and lavender. That's one of my favorite. That's like the Holy Trinity of sedative herbs in a tea, and then lemon balm.

Matt Finch: So there's all sorts of rad things. One more thing, then I'll shut up. Recently, a few months ago, I got a Casper brand 20 pound weighted blanket. And these things have been in studies to increase oxytocin, increase dopamine, and increase serotonin. And what they do is, so it's a 20 pound blanket and all the weight is evenly distributed to through whole thing. The Casper technology's got this cooling technology too. So even though it's heavy, it's like nice and cool. When you tuck yourself in all the way with this thing, it feels like somebody's cuddling you. Well, it feels like the blanket's cuddling you.

Matt Finch: So how the science is, is it activates all these points on you, and it stimulates this like deep pressure, not as hardcore as like deep tissue massage or anything like that, but all the weight, and I wish it was 25 pounds, that'd probably be perfect. I think you're supposed to do around 10% or a little more than 10% of your weight. Anyway, so I love the thing. I meditate with it. So I'll put it just over my cross legs when I meditate. So weighted blanket's huge.

Matt Finch: Matter of fact, one of my recent clients, I think he's almost maybe five months alcohol free and doing great, natural supplements alone weren't enough to help him sleep for the detox. So his doctor prescribed him trazodone, short term. And he said between the supplements and the Trazodone and the weighted blanket, his sleep like immediately, with the trazodone addition got great.

Matt Finch: But, dude, these weighted blankets are game changers. I can't even believe I didn't hear about these for so long. So, yeah, that's something that probably not a lot of people know about, but for quitting any addiction, seriously, I cannot recommend them enough. The one I got, by Casper, it's a bit pricey, I think it was $195, but for the money, for less than 200 bucks, for how much I use it every night for seven to nine hours, typically, during meditations.

Matt Finch: The other day, I was watching Stranger Things, that show with, my daughter Willow, and I was laying on the couch with that whole Casper weighted blanket. And I tucked myself in. I like just really tucked it in. It's so relaxing. Because I don't have a girlfriend now, you know this Chris, but maybe some other listeners don't know, I haven't had a girlfriend now in several months. I used to have a girlfriend where I'd hug her, where I'd cuddle her, where we'd lay on each other and stuff. And that was like really comfortable. Now, I don't have a girlfriend, luckily, I got the Casper blanket. Luckily, I still got my bird. So it's not as good as the real thing, having a human being to cuddle with and get all that oxytocin, dopamine, and endorphin.

Matt Finch: And then quick a few other quick things. I won't go deep into it, when sleeping, having the whole room blacked out, like total blackout, where there's no light whatsoever, especially no blue lights, and having the temperature in between 63 degrees and 68 degrees has been shown to be very effective for sleep. And also between those, no blue light after dark. So I have these blue blocks. So once the sun goes down or maybe a few hours before I go to sleep, if I'm on my phone or the computer, I got these blue blocks from Australia, took forever for these to ship here. So, yeah, there's supplements you can take. There's medications, there's over-the-counter medicines like diphenhydramine, Benadryl.

Matt Finch: We got delta binaural beats, theta binaural beats, alpha binaural beats blue, blue blocks, weighted blankets, dark room, cold temperatures, and on and on and on. Because if people don't get sleep-

Chris Scott: That's pretty good.

Matt Finch: Yeah. If people don't get sleep and they're detoxing and they're quitting something, well, the problem is they're not just not getting sleep. The problem is that each night they get crappy sleep, then that compounds their withdrawal symptoms. Because then if you're not getting sleep, then your less neurotransmitters, less energy, that means you're screwed up for the day. And then each day you get bad sleep, it compounds worse and worse. So it can be this never ending cycle, until people start to correct their healthy sleep. Like we said, sometimes it takes short term medicines, other times it takes multiple medicines. But a lot of the times these natural therapies, a lot of people don't know about just how much they can optimize their sleep.

Chris Scott: Right. And everyone's biochemically and psychologically unique, so some of these hacks for sleep, which are also potentially really effective ways to increase your natural levels of GABA, not a hack in the way that like taking an Ativan would be a hack. But it's not an effective long term one, as you found with your experience with dependence on benzo. But some of these hacks, if we can call them that, will be effective for some people, but not for others. So I have the sense people will have to rewind this video and take some notes, and maybe put together their own custom blueprint. As we say in my course, Total Alcohol Recovery 2.0, the goal is to help people find their own custom blueprint. It's not a one size fits all situation. Nothing can be, because everyone's different.

Chris Scott: But for both of us, magnesium was huge. I'm going to add to the vast universe of sleep hacks or pro restorative sleep solutions that you just came up with. Something that helped me a lot is glycine powder, which I didn't discover until a few years after quitting drinking. But glycine is an amino acid. It's one of the building blocks for collagen. So there are indirect benefits, as we find. There's no indirect benefit of a harsh prescription medication most of time, but often with these compounds that we evolved with for millions of years, they're involved in different things. So it happens to be the case that glycine is a building block for collagen, which can help with skin elasticity and joint health, but also acts as a calming neurotransmitter in the brain, similarly to GABA.

Chris Scott: So you can buy glycine powder, it's actually pretty sweet. It's not as sweet as sugar, but maybe 20%, 30% as sweet as sugar, no sugar in it, obviously, but it's easy to get down. I usually put about three grams, there's a little scooper with most glycine supplements, or sometimes it's like a third of a teaspoon, whatever it is. And you just put it under your tongue, it absorbs sublingually, like a lot of other supplements. You swallow whatever doesn't absorb. And you have this almost, for me, like magical glycine sleep that lasts longer and you feel calm and refreshed when you wake up. A really good thing for people who have anxiety, as well as sleep deprivation or trouble sleeping.

Chris Scott: And, obviously, melatonin is in a lot of supplements. I have mixed feelings about melatonin, because it is a powerful hormone. Studies have found that you only need like point three milligrams to get a desirable effect. And yet the companies that market this will often put three or five or 10 milligrams-

Matt Finch: Hundreds of times that amount.

Chris Scott: A lot of people overdue the melatonin. I don't think it's a bad thing. I think there are some people who are deficient in melatonin, but, interestingly, melatonin is synthesized from serotonin. So you can get the same benefit of a melatonin boost by using 5-HTP or L-tryptophan, which would be the natural building blocks, biochemically, for serotonin and therefore for melatonin as well.

Chris Scott: Another compound that's helped me, you mentioned this, is L-theanine. And the way that L-theanine works is that it plugs into the glutamate receptors, but it doesn't have the same activity of heightening electrical activity in the brain. But it's very calm, gentle mechanism of action, unlike a lot of prescription drugs. And, again, I'm not poo pooing, all prescription drugs. I'm just saying there are benefits gentler than prescription drugs, when you're working with supplements, which are generally much more benign.

Chris Scott: Now, obviously, some people have to be careful. I just talked about 5-HTP and L-tryptophan, if you're on an SSRI you could have an interaction with those, because you'd be... Well, SSRIs increase the concentration of serotonin between the synapses, you don't also want to be increasing your natural supply of serotonin, if you've achieved a careful balance that you and your doctor are happy with in your mood. So generally, serotonin boosting supplements are contraindicated for people on SSRIs or SNRIs.

Chris Scott: But generally speaking, for people who are not taking prescription medications or they're only taking benzodiazepines to get off of alcohol, or maybe they just take like a medication for blood pressure, like a beta blocker, a lot of the times there's no interactions. But if you're ever curious, you can go to Google, type the medication name and the plus sign, and then the supplement and then interactions, and you'll find web MD, all sorts of stuff.

Chris Scott: So anyway, glycine, L-theanine, CBD is one of my favorite relaxation compounds. It's not legal in every state, which is dumb, it should be. It's awesome. I'm drinking a CBD sparkling water right now, it's a brand called Untitled Art, and it's just carbonated water, organic grapefruit flavor, and hemp oil with naturally occurring CBD. That's it?

Matt Finch: I love [inaudible 00:36:21]-

Chris Scott: No sugar, it's great stuff. I love this brand. I'm not affiliated with them, but I've reached out to them, because I would love to be. Like other CBD beverages, I found it in a coffee shop. I always find when I'm sipping coffee in the morning, which I still enjoy. I don't overdo coffee the way I did when I was super dopamine deficient in early recovery. But I like to have a couple cups, and I like to have it along with some CBD sparkling water, because it takes the edge off of the caffeine buzz.

Chris Scott: So I get the best of both worlds. I get the productivity from the caffeine, but the full body relaxation from the CBD. And CBD has actually been found to help with sleep, actual sleep restoration, which is really cool. And so you can get that in oil form as well or in tablet, in capsule form, soft gel form. I love-

Matt Finch: Don't you have a coupon, too, for people for

Chris Scott: CBD Pure is a great company. They always innovate and come up with new products, but whatever the strongest full-spectrum oil. I like the full spectrum CBD, because you get the entourage effect. So there are other compounds besides CBD from hemp that are helpful. They've just been less studied in isolation. Hemp's been studied, but we don't know exactly what's doing what all the time. I found, personally, anecdotally also with my clients, that CBD isolate seems to be less satisfactory, generally, than full-spectrum CBD, where you get the entourage effect.

Chris Scott: And there are a bunch of different cannabinoids that are being studied at this point, like CBNs another one, CBGs another one. There's a whole bunch. So I like the full-spectrum, and that's what this has as well. So, yeah, CBD, a lot of people have found it helps to reduce alcohol cravings as well.

Chris Scott: And you mentioned passion flower and lemon balm, a lot of people use those. I've got those in capsule form actually. And a lot of people like valerian. I found valerian to be a bit harsh. I felt a little bit sluggish in the morning, but valerian, it's probably pretty powerful for people who might have severe insomnia. I've had some clients who like valerian a lot. And Taurine is another amino acid there with other benefits as well, but can help to create a sense of calm, similarly, to glycine.

Chris Scott: And let's see, what else? All of the sleep supplements. I think that's a pretty good list. We've probably given a pretty good list there. I'm sure I'm missing something, but I want to emphasize, also, that one of the important things you can do to increase your sleep quality is to expend more energy during the day, to the extent that you can. So exercise is actually a great way, especially in the morning or in the early afternoon, if you can, is a good way to get your body ready to wind down later in the day, and get rid of any negative energy or stress. Obviously, exercise has so many benefits. We can't begin to go into it, but one of them is helping out your stress response system, so that you do generate more sleep naturally at night, when you do exercise.

Chris Scott: Getting sunlight in the morning, in your eyes, especially. A lot of people don't know, it's actually important to get sun into your eyes, not to the point that you end up with damage. And I always use polarized sunglasses, if and only if I'm in the presence of glare. So if I'm out in the water on my jet ski, or if I'm driving on the highway and there's 50 cars ahead of me all glaring, I immediately put my polarized sunglasses on. If I'm just walking in a field or out there in the golf course, it's a beautiful day and there's no glare, I usually don't have sunglasses on.

Chris Scott: Now, again, I'm not doing that for five hours, but generally 20 minutes a day, you'll notice a benefit if you haven't been doing that, getting sun in your eyes, and sun on your skin as well. Right now, I feel good. I feel calm, in part, because I'm decently well tanned, because I've had some trips lately, and it's also been beautiful weather here.

Chris Scott: But I also wanted to mention, you talked about Epsom salt baths, which I'm a huge fan of. I actually like the Clary Sage oil, that's my favorite essential oil. Every night I put a couple drops in my hands, I go like that, and then, I'll breathe in through my nose. And I think there was a study with Clary Sage oil and pregnant women who were under a lot of stress, if I recall correctly. And it found that it was able to reduce stress noticeably for them. I don't know what the mechanism is there. I don't really understand how that would work, but there's a lot too essential oils. And that's another universe that can be useful as a distraction, even, for people psychologically, who have just been hooked on throwing out alcohol in their face as a ritual, get into some other things.

Chris Scott: Chinese herbs, adaptogenic herbs, holistic herbs, things like Reishi mushroom is actually a great herb for sleep. I've found that Reishi can be useful, it's not a sedative, per se.

Matt Finch: And [inaudible 00:41:29] seed, too, although that's aggravating.

Chris Scott: Yeah. So there are all sorts of herbs, adaptogenic herbs. Ashwagandha is one of my favorite for sleep, and for the ability to relax. So I wouldn't classify either of those as sedatives Reishi or Reishi however it's pronounced, it's not going to knock me out. But let's say I'm in a nerve wracking situation, I might do ashwagandha and Reishi mushroom, and I'll feel like I'm better able to deal with the stress. And if I can't sleep or I'm on a trip, I'm way more likely to use those than some prescription medications. So this kind of knowledge of holistic alternatives and of the basics just sunlight, exercise, hydrotherapy, which hot, cold water, et cetera, all of these things together, in my opinion, can be more powerful and liberating and empowering than relying on prescription drugs for a problem that really, evolutionarily, wasn't supposed to be a problem.

Matt Finch: I'm going to try that, Clary Sage oil, you have mentioned it before. I've been doing, I don't know if you can see this, my diffuser here, I've been doing this nice mixture called Calm. This is by Garden of Life Organic. It's got organic lavender, organic chamomile, and a couple other things I can't even... the writing's so small. But I about a hour before I go to bed or a half hour before I go to bed, and I load it, I put instead of like six to eight drops, like I usually do, I'll put like 10 to 15 drops of that mixture or maybe just the lavender some nights. And I really sleep so good with it.

Matt Finch: Also, while you were talking about the Clary Sage oil, I don't know if you saw, but I just took a couple whiffs, sniffs in my nose of the Calm essential oil and the lavender. And I just got super euphoric and calm, like, oh, my goodness. The way it works is our smell, as soon as we smell something through our nose, it goes straight to our amygdala. The amygdala is the emotional center of the brain. So it can cause fear or it can cause love or joy. Just think how good you feel when you smell certain essential oils, or when you smell like a fresh bouquet. Let's say you get like three bouquets of really fresh smelling, popping roses, that are just, one rose, if you put your nose up to it smells good, but let's say you have three dozen.

Matt Finch: So these types of things can significantly affect our mood states and our mental states. And it can be a form of kind of mental alchemy when we're experiencing a mood state or a mental state or both, where you don't like it. Well, there's so many different things you can do, whether it's something you're ingesting into your body, whether it's something that you're smelling, whether it's moving, exercising, whether it's sunlight, whether it's changing the way you're thinking about things, where focus goes, that's where your energy flows. So the more things, tools basically, that people have to not just get to sleep and keep getting good sleep after they've quit, completely got through early recovery, just keep getting better and better sleep.

Matt Finch: But the more tools people have, where they don't need to take alcohol, where they don't need to take opioids, where they don't need to take long term sleep medication, or antidepressant medication. Some people, for sure, that's the best bet for them. There's so many people nowadays with the depletion of the minerals and the nutrients in our foods and our soil, with the amount of toxins in the environment, and with the amount of just brutal assault that we're doing to ourselves and that we have no control over, electromagnetic frequencies, these harmful EMFs from internet, and all that kind of stuff, gasoline and smog smelling.

Matt Finch: So the more things that we have that we have control over, "God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change," which is all the smog in the air, which is the amount of nutrients in the soil, bunch of different other things, those are things we can't control. "The courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference."

Matt Finch: Well, all these different sleep optimization remedies and other things you can do supplements. We have so much control and it just takes courage to affect the things that we can control. So I feel like we've done a pretty comprehensive job at giving people a lot of different things that they can do to help to control their sleep cycles, to fall asleep faster, stay asleep longer, get more restorative sleep while they're sleeping. And have their process of rewiring their brain back to healthy sleep, be a kind of crunched time process versus not doing any of these strategies, quitting drinking, or quitting drugs, and just it takes forever for it to... These lingering insomnia symptoms, they just linger on, linger on.

Matt Finch: So now people have much more resources they can do, and increase their self-efficacy with sleep. So thank you much, everybody for joining us. Thank you much. Thank you so much for joining us. Chris, do you have anything you want to add or do you want to close it off for us or what?

Chris Scott: No, I think that was a great way to conclude it. Couldn't do it better myself. But yeah-

Matt Finch: All right.

Chris Scott: ... stay tuned for more videos, and of course, like and subscribe the channel, and we'll have more out soon.

Chris Scott: Hey everyone, Chris Scott here, if you like the information on today's episode regarding supplementation and empowerment strategies for addiction recovery, then please subscribe to the Elevation Recovery Podcast, and leave us a rating and review on iTunes.

Chris Scott: And if you've benefited directly from this information, I'm confident in saying that you'll love the information packed online courses that Matt Finch and I have created. Matt Finch's Ultimate Opiate Detox 4.0 is a six module, 30 activity course that contains video lessons, written lessons, PDF downloads, worksheets, audios, and much more. And it has everything you could possibly need to know to conquer opioid addiction in the easiest and most comfortable way possible.

Chris Scott: My own course, Total Alcohol Recovery 2.0, is the most cutting edge resource for anyone who wants to transcend alcohol and build their best lives. To get these courses, to learn more, and to read testimonials simply go to, again, that's, for Matt's course. Or for my course, go to, again, that's You can also go to to see the show notes for this episode.

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