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How smoking affects your sleep
You may be aware of the many health risks of smoking, but did you know it can also impact your sleep?
Smoking's nighttime effects
Health risks of smoking
More than 16 million Americans are living with a disease caused by smoking, from cancer, heart disease, and stroke to lung disease, diabetes, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Add another life-threatening risk factor to this list: obstructive sleep apnea (OSA).
By impacting your breathing, chronic smoking makes you susceptible to OSA, which is a partial or complete collapse of the upper airway that causes you to stop breathing as you sleep. Because your brain spends the night fighting for oxygen, your sleep cycles are disrupted, and you wake up feeling drained, exhausted, or sore. OSA is a serious condition that, if left untreated, can be deadly. The good news is that former smokers benefit from a decreased risk of developing OSA.
Nicotine and Restless Legs Syndrome
Smoking cessation effects
Tips to help you sleep while you’re quitting
- Cut back on caffeine. You metabolize caffeine faster than a non-smoker, making you jittery and irritable (which you may already be experiencing from trying to stay off nicotine).
- De-stress with a warm bath, light stretching or some other form of relaxation that distracts you from smoking.
- Explore new techniques to calm your mind such as meditation, yoga, and breathing exercises.
- Get some exercise—brisk walks are great for physical health and can help you fight those nicotine cravings.
- Reward yourself with enjoyable activities like watching a movie or reading a book.
- Spend time with supportive people (hopefully nonsmokers) you can confide in about trying to quit smoking.
- Don’t be discouraged if you’ve tried to quit and failed. It can take a few attempts, so stay positive and keep trying!
(1) Jaehne A, Loessl B, Barkai Z, et al., Effects of nicotine on sleep during consumption, withdrawal and replacement therapy. Sleep Med Rev 2009;13:363-77
- (2)Oksenberg A. Alleviation of severe RLS symptoms by cigarette smoking. J Clin Sleep Med 2010;6(5):489-90
- (3) Juergens TM. Adverse effects of ropinirole-treated RLS during smoking cessation. J Clin Sleep Med 2008;4(4):371-2
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