We know that smoking is linked to many serious diseases including cancer and heart disease. But what about smoking and sleep?
Tobacco smoking is one of the worst things you can do for your health, and research shows that it also impacts negatively on your sleep.
Difficulty falling asleep
People who smoke often have difficulty falling asleep. This is because nicotine is both a drug and a stimulant. The more you smoke the more difficulty you’re likely to experience. One 2013 study showed that smokers reported less total sleep time, longer sleep onset latency (the time it takes to go from awake to fully asleep), increased difficulty falling asleep and staying asleep, and waking up earlier than they wanted to. It’s believed that nicotine’s stimulating and withdrawal effects are to blame with the average person losing 1.2 minutes of sleep for every cigarette they smoke.
Smoking and sleep disturbances also go hand-in-hand with many experiencing restless sleep. Smokers tend to sleep lighter and therefore miss out on the benefits of restorative, deep sleep. Smokers are more likely to experience sleep disturbances, including insomnia. This is particularly the case if you smoke frequently and close to bedtime.
Wake up feeling restless
Because of the withdrawal effects that tobacco has on people, it’s quite common for smokers to wake up feeling restless. This is because withdrawal symptoms set in before waking up which causes smokers to feel restless and agitated when they do awake.
Circadian rhythm changes
Smoking has also been shown to change your circadian rhythm — your 24-hour internal body clock that controls your cycles of sleep and wakefulness. The more tobacco you smoke, the more disruption to your circadian rhythm, and the more disrupted your sleep will be.
Increases the risk of sleep apnoea
People who smoke are also 2.5 times more likely to develop obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA) a serious condition involving repeated episodes of partial or complete obstruction of the throat while you’re asleep. This can cause you to stop breathing for anywhere from 10 seconds to one minute. OSA also increases your risk for high blood pressure, diabetes, stroke and heart attack.
Quit to improve your sleep
If you’re a smoker, the best thing you can do for your sleep and your overall health is to quit. Quitting can be difficult but there is a lot of help and support available. Quitting will not only improve your health, but it will improve the quality and duration of your sleep dramatically.