You know you should stop smoking. Perhaps it has even been a recent New Year's resolution. There are plenty of reasons to quit smoking, but could improving your sleep be one of them? How does smoking cigarettes affect sleep?
In the consideration of sleep, any products that contain nicotine can be lumped together: cigarettes, cigars, pipes, hookah, and so forth. Nicotine is the key ingredient. Nicotine is what, potentially, can disrupt your sleep. Just like caffeine, nicotine acts as a stimulant. Stimulants make it easy to stay awake and, conversely, hard to fall asleep. Unlike caffeine, the withdrawal effects of nicotine can also be problematic.
Studies have demonstrated the adverse effects of nicotine on sleep. People who smoke change the structure of their sleep. Sleep normally follow regular patterns. When comparing the sleep of smoker and non-smokers, clear differences become apparent. It takes longer for smokers to fall asleep. This is an increased sleep latency. In addition, those who smoke have decreased deep or slow-wave sleep. In its place, there is increased light sleep or wakefulness. In fact, smokers sleep less in general.
These disruptions may lead to increased difficulty staying or falling asleep, symptoms of insomnia. This problem is compounded by the withdrawal effects of nicotine. For heavy smokers, those with a greater degree of dependence on nicotine, sleep may become disturbed when withdrawal sets in. Awakenings in the night to have a cigarette can have a significant toll. Whether you smoke close to bedtime, or have a cigarette in the night, the nicotine may stimulate you to stay awake.
Smoking can also lead to inflammation in the airway, including the nose and throat, that might predispose to snoring. Studies have shown that smokers are at twice the risk of snoring. This may disrupt the sleep of both the smoker and others nearby.
What is the best way to quit smoking? The first step is to pick a time to quit smoking. Why not today? Alternatively, you may select a date that is significant for you: a birthday, an anniversary, a favored holiday. Honestly assess your own willingness to quit, your level of commitment to the enterprise. You should try to arrange support, even making a pact to quit with other smokers in your life. It may be helpful to use nicotine replacement therapy, including gum, patches, or even electronic cigarettes. You can obtain additional support, including medications to ease the transition, from your doctor.
You know that you should quit smoking, and if you are motivated to do so, you may also benefit your sleep. Do your health a favor: stop smoking and start sleeping.
Check out the entire series, "How to Sleep Better in 30 Days."