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How Smoking affects your Sleep
  • Sleep Health

How Smoking affects your Sleep

Smoking and have problems sleeping? Smoking might have something to do with it! Many people think smoking is relaxing and enjoy a cigarette before heading off to bed. Research shows, however, that smoking is a stimulant rather than a relaxant and can, therefore, contribute to your sleep problems.

Does Nicotine keep you awake?

If you smoke, you’re addicted to nicotine. If you don’t get a new dose enough, your body will protest. You might twitch, for example, or become restless. You know you’ll calm down if you have a cigarette. It might seem that nicotine has a relaxing effect, but in reality, it is a stimulating substance. Just like caffeine, nicotine speeds up heart rate, increases blood pressure and stimulates brain activity. Not the recipe for a nice deep sleep. A survey conducted in 2012 showed that smokers sleep a lot worse than non-smokers. 17% of the participants who smoked slept less than 6 hours a night. An even greater number of smokers (28%) complained about an overall disturbing quality of sleep. In non-smokers, these numbers were lower (7% and 19%).

Smoking and sleeping badly: What are the consequences for your health?

Everyone knows that smoking is bad for your body. It increases the chance of developing various types of cancer and cardiovascular diseases. However, bad sleep can have a negative impact on your health. The WHO warns that sleeping less than 7 hours a night increases the risk of a stroke or heart attack. In addition, a chronic bad night’s sleep lowers your resistance and is more likely to cause conditions such as diabetes, obesity, depression and dementia. Anyone who smokes and suffers from insomnia is doubly affecting their health. Quitting smoking may help you get a better night’s sleep.

Will quitting the habit exacerbate the problem?

Many smokers are afraid that their sleep problems will worsen if they say goodbye to their cigarettes. Sleep disorders are one of the most common withdrawal symptoms. They can be accompanied by vivid dreams or nightmares, an interrupted sleep pattern or difficulty in falling asleep. Fortunately, this is a temporary phenomenon. After a few weeks, these symptoms disappear and your sleep pattern will become better and better. Relaxation or breathing exercises can help to improve your night’s sleep. Many of these exercises can be found on the internet.

Other tips that can help with sleep problems while quitting smoking:

• If you use nicotine substitutes like chewing gum or lozenges, try to avoid using them just before you go to bed.
• Avoid coffee and alcohol in the evening.
• If you can’t sleep, don’t lie there, tossing and turning. Instead, get out of bed, do a crossword puzzle, read a book or eat something and then try again.
• If you suffer from sleep problems during withdrawal, talk to your doctor or pharmacy.
• There are various (homoeopathic) medicines or therapies that can help to improve your sleep.

Sources: NDTV, Smokefree.gov.uk, NHS