Don’t lose another night’s sleep!
Smoking and poor sleep are proven bedfellows. Studies show that smokers suffer more from sleep disturbances than nonsmokers. In fact, nearly one out of four smokers report tossing and turning all night compared with only 5 percent of nonsmokers. Because of the physical effects of nicotine, smoking before bed is like a two-edged sword – you can’t win either way. And here’s why it affects your sleep health:
- Smoking leaves you wide awake. You may think that last cigarette before bedtime feels soooo relaxing, but it’s an illusion. As a stimulant, nicotine revs you up and makes falling asleep more difficult. Each puff sends a rush of adrenaline to the body, causing a sudden release of glucose as well as an increase in blood pressure, heart rate, and respiration. Not a good formula for relaxing!
- Smoking hinders deep sleep. Nicotine not only keeps you up, it makes you sleep worse when you finally do doze off. That’s because cigarettes often give you light sleep, depriving you of the deep sleep needed to give you that “restorative” feeling when you wake up. And as the night goes on and the nicotine wears off, you probably will find yourself tossing and turning.
- Smoking disrupts our circadian rhythms. Our what? That’s our inner biological clock that regulates the timing of wakefulness and sleepiness throughout the day. When you’re not on a healthy sleep cycle, you’re prone to develop depression, anxiety, and a variety of mood disorders.
- Lack of sleep leads to even more bummers. It’s the domino effect. Not getting a good night’s rest makes you grumpy and foggy, reducing your level of alertness by a third! Then your decision-making ability falters, and your looks, your health, your weight, even your sex life can suffer.
But there’s good news for smokers who quit. It takes only a few days or weeks for your sleep cycle to stabilize as your body goes through nicotine withdrawal. In fact, if you’re quitting, be kind to yourself and give yourself plenty of extra rest, healthy foods, and relaxation. Your body needs every bit of energy to reboot and recharge.
Here are some tips to get a full night of ZZZ’s after you quit smoking:
- Keep a regular sleep schedule – get up and go to bed at the same time.
- Cut out (or reduce) caffeine and alcohol.
- Avoid taking naps during the day.
- Go for a calming walk around the neighborhood right before hitting the sack.
- Avoid TV and devices at least an hour before bed.
- Take all electronics out of the bedroom and charge them in another room.
- Relax before bedtime with a warm bath, meditation, music or a good book (boring and/or nonviolent is best!)
- Reinvent your bedroom into a sleep haven: choose relaxing lavender scents, black-out curtains, sleeping masks, and white noise machines.
How do you wind down at night? Let us know on Facebook!