Sleep data from chronic alcoholics have indicated that sleep disturbance represents an important aspect of alcoholic detoxification. Previous studies have been complicated by problems of poor diet, uncertain time for onset of withdrawal, or a limited time schedule for controlled withdrawal. This study presents longitudinal data for 6, young adult, male patients who were admitted for acute alcoholic detoxification. Five of these patients were given an adequate diet and a large maintenance dose of alcohol for 3 to 7 days prior to withdrawal; the 6th patient was withdrawn immediately on admission to the ward. Sleep was recorded for each 24-hour period for more than 2 weeks and a control standard of sleep was set for each patient from a period after 6 days off alcohol. The data indicate that the recovery time for alcohol withdrawal is approximately 6 to 8 days. During recovery, rapid eye movement (REM) sleep undergoes a damped oscillation, while percentage of wake and time to sleep onset decrease slowly to the control levels. Slow wave sleep was absent or abnormally low. The 6th patient withdrawn on admission without control of diet or amount of alcohol showed the largest REM rebound, but in all other respects gave results similar to the other patients. It is suggested that during this 6-to 8-day detoxification period the alcoholic has an increased risk of resuming drinking in order to reduce his REM sleep disturbance.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Psychiatry and Mental health