Quitting smoking is one of the best decisions you can make to improve your health, but you may experience temporary insomnia. These are some facts about the complicated relationship between sleep and cigarettes, along with strategies that can help you sleep better no matter what cessation method you are using.
Understanding the Connection Between Smoking and Sleep
1. Assess your current sleep quality. Both smoking and quitting smoking tend to disturb your sleep. Studies show that people who smoke get less sleep on average. They also experience lower quality sleep overall.
2. Learn the effects of nicotine on sleep. Nicotine is a stimulant with some effects similar to caffeine. It makes it harder to fall asleep and stay asleep.
3. Understand the impact of nicotine withdrawal. In addition to respiratory issues, part of the reason that people who smoke have trouble sleeping is due to the lack of nicotine overnight. These symptoms may be increased for a time when you give up cigarettes completely.
4. Watch for symptoms of depression. Depression can be another complicating factor because it makes it more difficult to sleep and to quit smoking successfully. If you need help, your doctor can help you find one of the many effective treatments available today.
5. Prepare to sleep more. Some fortunate people actually sleep more when they stop smoking. This appears to be the body’s way of making up for the previous sleep deficits. The good news is that you may also sleep through some of the discomfort of the early stages of quitting.
6. Count on good sleep to help you quit. Sleep is especially important at this time in your life. By taking steps to stay well rested, you lower your chances of relapsing.
Strategies to Sleep Better
1. Remove the patch before bed. Some people are more sensitive to the stimulation from patches that deliver nicotine overnight. You may want to wear the patch during the day and take it off a few hours before retiring.
2. Quit late night smoking. If you’re cutting back gradually, give up the late night cigarettes first. They’re the ones most likely to keep you up.
3. Stick to a consistent schedule. As always, going to bed and getting up at the same time every day helps. Try to keep the same schedule even on weekends and holidays.
4. Turn down the lights. Exposure to light makes your brain more alert. Darken your bedroom. Turn off the TV and computer screens early in the evening. Put a night light in your bathroom so you can get back to sleep faster.
5. Do something boring. Instead of tossing and turning, get out of bed until you feel drowsy. Sort out your tax receipts or read the manual that came with your dishwasher.
6. Pick the right bedtime snacks. Tryptophan is an amino acid that triggers drowsiness naturally. Try a small bowl of cereal and milk before bed.
7. Talk with your doctor. If your sleep fails to improve within a few weeks, get a physical examination. Your physician can give you tests to spot other issues and refer you to a sleep specialist if needed.
8. Look forward to better sleep. Remember that for most people, all of these symptoms will clear up on their own. You’ll soon be feeling better and sleeping more soundly.
Quitting smoking may interfere with your slumbers temporarily, but the positive health benefits will last for the rest of your life. Making temporary adjustments will help you to stay well rested. Then, you can look forward to becoming tobacco-free and enjoying better sleep than ever.
For inquiries Contact Dr. Nicolle Martin MD.
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