If you are someone who smokes or is trying to stop smoking, you might be wondering about the effects that nicotine has had or is having on your body. You might have heard people saying that smoking before they go to sleep has actually helped them to fall asleep faster and have a better night’s sleep.
Though is this actually true?
Does smoking help you go to sleep? Or does the nicotine in cigarettes actually keep you awake?
Well, if these are the questions you want to be answered, then you have come to the right place. In this article, we are going to look at the impacts that nicotine has on your sleep.
What Is Nicotine?
Nicotine is one of the most important compounds found in tobacco products such as cigarettes. It is also an alkaloid which means it contains nitrogen atoms.
These nitrogen atoms can form bonds with other chemicals. This is why nicotine is so addictive.
Nicotine is considered to be a stimulant. This means that nicotine is able to stimulate chemical messengers to be released.
The chemical messengers or neurotransmitters could be things like serotonin and dopamine are what make individuals feel pleasurable feelings like happiness.
The problem with nicotine stimulating the release of them is that there can be fluctuations in them. These fluctuations are what might impact your sleeping.
So essentially, nicotine could be the root problem of your sleeping problems.
How Nicotine Works
If you smoke regularly, then you will know how much nicotine affects your body. When you smoke, you inhale nicotine into your lungs.
Once inside your lungs, the nicotine gets absorbed by the blood vessels in your lungs. From here, the nicotine travels through your bloodstream until it reaches your brain.
Once nicotine enters your brain, it binds to receptors. These receptors are located in different parts of the brain.
They are responsible for sending signals to various areas of the brain. Some of the main functions of these receptors include:
- Regulating moods
- Controlling pain
- Maintaining muscle tone
- Stimulating appetite
- Regulating heart rate
- Controlling breathing
When you start smoking, the first thing that happens is that the levels of nicotine rise in your blood. As the levels of nicotine increase, the receptors become more sensitive to the presence of nicotine.
This causes the receptors to send more signals to the brain.
This is why when you start smoking, you get a feeling of pleasure. This feeling is known as the “rush”.
After you have smoked for some time, the amount of nicotine increases again. This is because the receptors are becoming less sensitive to the presence of nicotine.
This causes the number of messages sent from the receptor to the brain to decrease.
This is why after you have stopped smoking, your body starts craving nicotine. This is because the body needs nicotine to function properly.
The body craves nicotine because it has become reliant on nicotine when it comes to regulating the levels of serotonin and norepinephrine in the brain. Serotonin is responsible for regulating mood while norepinephrine is responsible for controlling anxiety.
If you don’t receive enough amounts of these two chemicals, then you are likely to experience depression or anxiety.
How Does Smoking Affect Your Sleeping?
Smoking can affect your sleeping patterns in many ways. Here are just a few of the ways that smoking can affect your sleep:
It may cause insomnia. Insomnia is defined as not being able to fall asleep or stay asleep.
It may happen due to stress, lack of exercise, caffeine intake, alcohol consumption, poor diet, etc.
You may find yourself waking up during the night. This is because nicotine has been affecting your brain’s ability to produce melatonin.
Melatonin is a hormone produced by the pineal gland. It helps control our circadian rhythm. Circadian rhythm refers to the 24-hour cycle that controls our internal biological clock.
You may wake up too early. This is because the high levels of adrenaline caused by the nicotine may make you feel like you need to go to the bathroom immediately.
This is also known as an “urge to urinate” or “urgency.”
Your breathing may be affected. Nicotine stimulates the respiratory tract.
This means that your breathing becomes faster and deeper. This makes it difficult to breathe normally.
Deep breathing is important for proper sleep. When you do not get enough deep breaths, this can lead to snoring.
Snoring is the sound made by air passing through the soft tissues at the back of the throat.
Your blood pressure may drop. When you smoke, the level of carbon dioxide rises in your blood.
Carbon dioxide is a gas that occurs naturally in the human body. It is released into the bloodstream when we exhale.
A higher concentration of carbon dioxide in the blood leads to lower blood pressure.
If you are a regular smoker, you’ll find that it will take you longer to fall asleep, when you do fall asleep it will be for a shorter period of time, and you won’t be in a deep sleep for as long as others.
How Do You Quit Smoking?
There are different methods that you can use to quit smoking. These include:
Quitting cold turkey. This method involves stopping all forms of tobacco products completely.
This includes cigarettes, cigars, pipes, chewing tobacco, snuff, etc.
Using patches. Patching is a way of quitting smoking using nicotine replacement therapy (NRT).
NRT is a form of medication that provides nicotine without the harmful effects of smoking. There are several types of NTR’s available such as nicotine gum, transdermal patch, inhalator, nasal spray, lozenge, sublingual tablet, and buccal tablet.
Using e-cigarettes. E-cigarettes are electronic devices that allow you to inhale vaporized liquid containing nicotine.
They look similar to regular cigarettes but they have no combustion chamber. Instead, they heat a solution of propylene glycol and vegetable glycerin to create an aerosol.
The aerosol is then inhaled.
Using medications. Medications are used to help people stop smoking.
Some of these include varenicline, bupropion, nortriptyline, clonidine, and mecamylamine. However, these drugs should only be used with counseling from a doctor.
How Long Does It Take To Stop Smoking?
It takes time to stop smoking. Most smokers report that they cannot stop smoking within one day. It usually takes about three weeks before you notice any changes in your health. During this period, you will experience withdrawal symptoms.
What Are The Withdrawal Symptoms Of Quitting Smoking?
Withdrawal symptoms occur when you try to quit smoking. These symptoms usually start after two days.
They last between four and eight weeks. Common withdrawal symptoms include:
Anxiety or depression. Many people who try to quit smoking feel anxious or depressed.
This is because you miss the feeling of having a cigarette in your hand. Also, you might feel guilty for giving up on yourself.
Craving for cigarettes. When you first try to quit smoking, you probably crave cigarettes.
This is because your brain has become accustomed to nicotine. When you give up smoking, your brain does not know how to cope with the lack of nicotine.
So it starts craving cigarettes.
Insomnia. If you smoke at night, you may find it difficult to fall asleep.
Although you might be sleepy, quitting smoking can make you jittery and restless. This is what can cause you to stay awake.
Irritability. When you quit smoking, you may get irritable. This is because you have been deprived of something that you have come to depend upon.
Headaches. Headaches are common among people who quit smoking.
This is often the first withdrawal symptom to occur. The headaches can be mild or they can be quite painful for some.
Loss of appetite. You may lose your appetite when you quit smoking.
So nicotine does have an impact on your sleep. It reduces the amount of time you spend sleeping and it reduces the quality of your sleep.
This means that nicotine is keeping you awake.
Hopefully, this article has answered the questions you had surrounding nicotine and sleep. We hope that we’ve helped you work out what you can do in order to achieve a night of better sleep in the long run.
Please share this with others who you think this article might help.