Sleep quality and emotions affect opioid addiction recovery

January 5, 2017 by Kristie Auman-Bauer, Pennsylvania State University

Getting enough quality sleep may be as important to one's health as a good diet and exercise, but for people fighting addition to painkillers, it can also lower their cravings, according to a Penn State study.

Over the past two decades, the number of painkillers prescribed has quadrupled in the U.S., with opioid dependence increasingly being recognized as a public health concern. While previous research has shown sleep disturbance is a risk factor in addiction recovery to a wide range of substances, a group of Penn State researchers is focusing on the rising opioid crisis to discover how both sleep and emotions can affect the recovery process.

Bo Cleveland, associate professor and Social Science Research Institute co-funded faculty member, and graduate student David Lydon-Staley, both in the Department of Human Development and Family Studies, along with researchers at Penn State's College of Medicine, found that in addition to getting enough quality sleep, positive emotions also helped lessen the cravings associated with drug withdrawal. The findings were recently published in the journal Addictive Behaviors.

Researchers recruited 68 at the Caron Treatment Center in Wernersville, Pennsylvania, as a part of a larger study that included neurocognitive assessments of relapse risk. Patients had completed a medically assisted withdrawal from opioids at the treatment center 10 to 14 days prior to the start of the study.

Using a smartphone app developed by the Dynamic Real-Time Ecological Ambulatory Methodologies (DREAM) program in the Survey Research Center at Penn State, patients provided reports of their and positive and negative moods, as well as their level of drug cravings, for 12 days.

"A preset alarm notified patients to complete a survey four times each day, with the morning survey assessing sleep quality," Cleveland explained. "The real-time data was then streamed to our lab to monitor compliance and data quality." Additionally, research staff met with patients to build rapport, answer questions and manage technical difficulties.

The researchers found that patients who reported lower quality of sleep also experienced higher than usual drug cravings. While previous studies have shown that sleep quality can affect craving levels across a range of substances during drug withdrawal, for the first time researchers were able to establish a connection between a patient's positive mood and lower than usual drug cravings. "We also found that a positive mood can partially mediate the effects of poor sleep quality on cravings," said Cleveland.

The findings demonstrate the importance of sleep and how sleep disturbance is a risk factor in drug addiction recovery. "We've just begun to evaluate the data from the project, so we'll also be looking into the impacts of other daily processes on relapse from drug addiction and what happens once the patients leave treatment," Cleveland said. "This study opens the door to further research on the relationship between , moods and cravings with patients with other substance abuse."

Explore further: Sleep disturbance linked to esophageal hypersensitivity

Related Stories

Sleep disturbance linked to esophageal hypersensitivity

December 5, 2016
(HealthDay)—For patients with gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), sleep disturbance is associated with enhanced heartburn perception to capsaicin infusion, according to a study published online Nov. 29 in the Journal ...

Short and poor quality sleep may have negative effects on kidney function

November 19, 2016
Not getting enough quality sleep was linked with worsening kidney function in a study of patients with chronic kidney disease. The findings will be presented at ASN Kidney Week 2016 November 15-20 at McCormick Place in Chicago, ...

Study finds that sleep apnea therapy has positive impact on hypertensive patients

October 28, 2016
A new study shows that positive airway pressure (PAP) therapy for sleep apnea may have a positive impact on sleep-related functional outcomes among patients who also suffer from hypertension. The findings suggest that untreated ...

Study links sleep habits to adolescent drug and alcohol use

September 19, 2016
A study led by researchers from the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine and Pitt Department of Psychology has identified a possible link between adolescent sleep habits and early substance ...

Study finds no link between sleep apnea and joint pain

August 1, 2016
Consistent with previous reports, poor sleep quality was linked with joint pain in a recent Arthritis Care & Research study of the general population, but the study found no association between obstructive sleep apnea and ...

Increased smartphone screen-time associated with lower sleep quality

November 9, 2016
Exposure to smartphone screens is associated with lower sleep quality, according to a study published November 9, 2016 in the open-access journal PLOS ONE by Matthew Christensen from the University of California, San Francisco, ...

Recommended for you

Marijuana use may not aid patients in opioid addiction treatment

December 4, 2017
Many patients who are being treated for opioid addiction in a medication-assisted treatment clinic use marijuana to help manage their pain and mood symptoms.

For opiate addiction, study finds drug-assisted treatment is more effective than detox

November 23, 2017
Say you're a publicly insured Californian with an addiction to heroin, fentanyl or prescription narcotics, and you want to quit.

Study finds medical cannabis is effective at reducing opioid addiction

November 17, 2017
A new study conducted by researchers at The University of New Mexico, involving medical cannabis and prescription opioid use among chronic pain patients, found a distinct connection between having the legal ability to use ...

Insomnia linked to alcohol-use frequency among early adolescents, says new psychology study

November 8, 2017
Insomnia is linked to frequency of alcohol use among early adolescents, according to new Rutgers University–Camden research.

Large declines seen in teen substance abuse, delinquency

October 25, 2017
More than a decade of data indicates teens have become far less likely to abuse alcohol, nicotine and illicit drugs, and they also are less likely to engage in delinquent behaviors, such as fighting and stealing, according ...

Trying to get sober? NIH offers tool to help find good care

October 3, 2017
The phone calls come—from fellow scientists and desperate strangers—with a single question for the alcohol chief at the National Institutes of Health: Where can my loved one find good care to get sober?


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.