We all know that nicotine has many properties that affect our bodies and our minds, and we notice them if we use nicotine products frequently – but perhaps it’s more noticeable when you stop taking nicotine.
When you kick the habit, you’ll notice plenty of benefits, but you’ll also be struggling to adjust back to a non-smoking life – and without a hit of nicotine, you might notice that you’re beginning to experience symptoms of fatigue.
In today’s guide, we’re going to look at why this might be the case. Why do we feel tired when we kick the habit of using nicotine products and what we can do about it.
Why Does Quitting Nicotine Make You Feel Fatigued?
When you quit any addictive substance, you’ll exhibit symptoms of withdrawal and depending on the substance, the withdrawal symptoms will differ. Whatever it is though, withdrawal is not nice and nobody wants to go through it.
When it comes to the symptoms of nicotine withdrawal, there are a number of horrible reactions that people may experience. these include the following:
Many people report that pretty quickly after quitting nicotine products, their appetite goes through the roof. This is because nicotine acts upon the part of the brain that regulates your appetite, and you’ll find that suppression of your hunger is lessened.
Moreover, due to boredom and the feeling of the jitters, a lot of people use food as comfort or to fill the void between using nicotine products.
As a result, quitters often put on some weight in the first 12 months of their quitting process.
Many people will feel very anxious when they quit nicotine products. There are various reasons and theories for this, but it’s likely due to the feeling of “cold turkey” whilst also worrying about avoiding nicotine and any other worries that come along with it – such as gaining weight.
On the flip side, many people who experience anxiety would typically use nicotine products to relieve their worries and other physical symptoms, and without the vice, they could feel much more anxious than normal.
Strong Nicotine Cravings
Nicotine cravings on average last between 15 and 20 minutes and during this time, it’s crucial to pass through it. You may feel anger or jittery and the feeling of a strong “need” for your chosen nicotine product such as a cigarette.
During this time, it’s important to avoid anything that might normally set off nicotine cravings like drinking alcohol or being around other smokers.
It’s significant to note that cravings for nicotine are entirely normal, and you shouldn’t worry too much about getting them.
This is less common but some people that quit might notice their bowel habits are changing.
Nicotine can act as a laxative, similar to caffeine – and these often go hand in hand. Nicotine can stimulate a part of the bowel that causes contractions to help you poop – and without this, it can be more difficult to pass a stool.
Additionally, if a quitters diet has drastically changed due to their cravings, this poor diet can cause constipation in people.
Only a healthy, high fiber diet and plenty of exercise will assist a person during this time – unless they require a medical intervention.
The body’s respiratory system is always trying to clear itself and when a person is taking a nicotine product such as smoking, the system cannot operate to clear it as well as it could.
When a person quits, the system is working overtime to clear up all the bad waste left over.
This shouldn’t last too long, expect it for around two to three weeks, but if it persists you may wish to speak with a doctor.
Headaches Or Migraines
Some people that quit nicotine may notice strong headaches or even migraines in the early stages, likely part of the cold turkey stage. It should pass within a week, but you may require some pain medications to help you through it.
It’s wise to speak with your doctor if you’re feeling extreme pains during this time.
The crux of this guide. Nicotine is stimulating, similar to caffeine. When a person isn’t getting their usual “pick me up”, they may start to feel very tired. It can however, cause the opposite – and lead to sleeping disorders or changes to sleep patterns like insomnia.
Without the stimulating properties that nicotine can provide, many people often feel as though they cannot concentrate or think as they normally could.
This is a difficult symptom to analyze due to its complexity. Some quitters may feel a depression from day one of their quitting timeline and it may pass in a short time, but other people (for example, those diagnosed with clinical depression) might notice much worse symptoms or they are lasting much longer.
Always try to speak with a doctor if this is a problem you are experiencing.
What About Vaping?
Vaping is another way to intake nicotine and many people who try to counter their nicotine addiction that make the switch from smoking to vaping report feeling very tired.
There are no scientifically explicit answers for this, but theories for why this is the case seem to suggest two main reasons.
The first is that vaping is not as “simple” as smoking. When you smoke a cigarette, you’re used to the length and strength of your puff, and you know when you are finished. Vaping allows a person to draw on the device for as long or as little as they wish.
Additionally, if a person is not taking as much or as strong of a draw to the vape as they would with a cigarette, they may not be getting the same level of nicotine as normal – and as a result, they are taking in less nicotine levels and feeling the effects of withdrawal without realizing.
The second reason is due to the concentration of nicotine in e-liquids. As this is different from smoking normally, a person might be feeling as if they are not getting their usual “hit” and aren’t used to this type of nicotine product.
There is a third theory, but it is not as clear. It suggests that some people may draw too long on the vape and not breathe naturally, meaning they are not getting the same oxygen levels as usual and therefore feel fatigued.
One way that people combat their fatigue with vaping is by using e-liquids that are mixed with caffeine, but this will only be a temporary fix.
The only way to get your body back to normal is to go through the quitting process entirely and get to a healthy diet and exercise.
What Can I Do About It?
When people want to quit, they’d be wise to opt for something like nicotine replacement therapy as an option.
The options of NRT include things like nicotine gum, nicotine nasal spray, nicotine patches and other replacements that allow a person to avoid tobacco products, whilst lessening the common side effects of nicotine withdrawal.
Nicotine replacement therapy works to gradually ween people off other vices such as smoking cigarettes and allow them to get a dose of nicotine but in a safer way which allows them to gradually quit.
The long term effects of nicotine replacement therapy normally are that a person quits nicotine for good and in fact are twice more likely than without this type of assistance.
Tobacco users might notice that their choice of NRT such as nicotine nasal spray for example, is causing other reactions such as a shortness of breath or dry mouth – but these should pass in time.
The main benefit is that it allows people to kick their smoking habit, quit smokeless tobacco or other nicotine products but lessens the potential psychological symptoms and physiological symptoms that can be difficult to deal with.
Always try to consult your health care provider when considering quitting tobacco products and remember that quitting for good will have massive health benefits such as reducing the risk of heart attacks or strokes.
Quitting nicotine can make you feel tired and there are a variety of reasons for that, but remember that this should not last too long.
If you are struggling, consider speaking with your health care provider and consulting with friends and family for further support.