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

Sean P.A. Drummond, J. Christian Gillin, Tom L. Smith, Anna DeModena

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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.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1796-1802
Number of pages7
JournalAlcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 1998
Externally publishedYes


  • Abstinence
  • Alcoholism
  • Relapse
  • Sleep

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