The sleep of abstinent pure primary alcoholic patients: natural course and relationship to relapse

Alcohol Clin Exp Res. 1998 Nov;22(8):1796-802.


Sleep in male pure primary alcoholic inpatients was examined at a mean of 16 days (n = 29), 19 weeks (n = 29), 14 months (n = 9), and 27 months (n = 4) of abstinence. Results were as follows: (1) the sleep of abstinent alcoholic patients is short, fragmented, and shallow early in abstinence; (2) a patient's sleep improves slowly over at least the first year of abstinence; however, (3) some facets of a patient's sleep remain abnormal even after 27 months of abstinence; (4) insomnia and sleep fragmentation after approximately 5 months of abstinence may be related to relapse by 14 months. The mechanism underlying the relationship between sleep and withdrawal in alcoholic patients is not well understood, and the issue of treating sleep problems as an adjunct to prevention of relapse warrants further investigation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Alcohol Withdrawal Delirium / psychology
  • Alcohol Withdrawal Delirium / rehabilitation*
  • Alcoholism / psychology
  • Alcoholism / rehabilitation*
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Patient Admission
  • Polysomnography / drug effects
  • Recurrence
  • Sleep Stages / drug effects*
  • Sleep Wake Disorders / diagnosis
  • Sleep Wake Disorders / psychology
  • Temperance / psychology*