Sundown syndrome and alcoholism

April 25, 2020

Sundown syndrome and alcoholism

During my Level 2 Reiki training the topic of dementia was brought up. Reiki has been proven to be of benefit to the anxiety experienced by dementia sufferers. (1). One particular form of anxiety that it has been helpful with is a condition called Sundowning. In Sundowning those who have dementia become extremely anxious and fearful as the sun is going down and day transitions into night. This is a time of change that, due to the lack of memory of this having happened before, is very nerve wrenching for those going through dementia. As we discussed techniques of assisting in easing this experience I began to wonder if the techniques could prove useful to those in recovery.

Alcohol abuse side effects and Dementia Similarities

In my previous post I discussed the links between chronic inflammation and alcoholism. Here I would like to explore more closely how that inflammation can compile into similar symptoms that present themselves in dementia. (2)

Some symptoms of dementia are:

Memory loss


Changes in personality

Changes in motor function/coordination

These symptoms also present themselves in the chronic alcohol user during and post consumption.

Symptoms of sundown syndrome present themselves prevalently in the early stages of recovery. As the sun begins to go down those in recovery have reported increased heart rate, sweating, and clammy hands. These are all signs of anxiety. The average alcohol consumer drinks in the evening. It may be for social interaction or for stress management. When the tool used for these things is removed it is difficult to bring a new tool in that can feel just as useful.

Suggested recovery tools

While we cannot bring back the cells that have been dissipated during binge use we can work on strengthening what still remains. There are herbs for strengthening memory such as Ginko Bilboa. Tumeric can decrease inflammation. When writing my thesis on Alzheimers and traditional Chinese medicine for my final I discovered that, similar to how a lack of exfoliation of the body causes a build up of cells on the skin, the brain can also experience a lack of exfoliation. The resulting dead cell build up and dehydration is one of the physiological causes of Alzheimers. In TCM we find that various herbal tinctures can increase this “exfoliation” process. One of these herbs is used commonly around the world in the form of green tea. The use of sour fruits, sour herbs, and vinegars can also assist in this process.

Reiki and meditation for recovery

Reiki is form of energetic healing that eases stress and anxiety. Meditation is a self care practice that continues to be introduced into various environments as a useful tool to increase patience, self love, and focus. Receiving reiki as part of your recovery will ease the anxiety felt during the various transitions that you experience. With each Reiki session your strength and ability to manage your recovery will increase. Taking moments through the day to focus on your breath for at least 1 minute without interruption is a great way to introduce yourself to the concept of meditative practice.

As your tool set continues to grow you will find that meditation will be one that gives consistent results and it doesn’t cost a dime. Getting to the point where you can find that focus will take a moment. believe in yourself and continue to work toward your goal. I believe in you and I look forward to your continued increase in health and happiness.

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