Can quitting smoking lead to better sleep?
Phil Lawlor, a Sleep Expert from the mattress specialists Dormeo, shares his insight into why quitting smoking this October could help you get a better night’s sleep.
It’s that time of year when the NHS begins to promote its annual Stoptober campaign, and it looks like it could be particularly popular this year. A million people in the UK have quit smoking since the coronavirus pandemic began, according to figures from the Action on Smoking and Health. A further 440,000 have tried to kick the habit, too.
There could be a number of reasons for this surge in people wanting to give up cigarettes. Perhaps more people have become concerned about their lung health, as we know coronavirus is primarily a respiratory disease. A lot of people’s financial situations have changed dramatically over that last few months, which means some might no longer be able to justify the expense. With little else to do in lockdown, others might have decided to stamp out the habit as a challenge.
Whether you simply decide to go cold turkey or fancy giving hypnotherapy a try, giving up smoking can have a whole host of benefits. And one is that it can have a positive impact on your quality of sleep. Here, I’ll look at why that is.
Smoking can affect your circadian rhythm
We all have a circadian rhythm, which is essentially an internal clock that tells our body when it should sleep and when it should be alert. This can be affected by a number of factors, including how much daylight we’re exposed to, how much time we spend staring at screens, and what our work patterns are like. But, according to a study by the University of Rochester Medical Center, it can also be impacted by smoking.
Tobacco smoke can change the gene expression patterns in your lung tissue, and this can have a knock-on effect that changes your circadian rhythm. In fact, it can have a very similar effect to jet lag. So, if you often struggle to drift off at night, or you’re always waking up earlier than you would like to, your cigarettes could be to blame. The study actually found that your sleeping patterns can be affected for up to 30 days after your exposure to cigarette smoke ends, but you should eventually start to see the benefits.
It can increase your risk of sleep apnoea
Smoking can also increase your risk of suffering from sleep apnoea (according to SleepTest.co.uk), which is a condition that can cause your airways to become obstructed while you sleep. When your body realises it isn’t receiving enough oxygen, it will wake you up, preventing you from getting a good night’s rest.
Smoking can cause sleep apnoea because nicotine, the addictive chemical found in cigarette smoke, is actually an irritant that can cause inflammation in your upper airways. This can mean that, in certain sleeping positions, you might snore and even struggle to breathe properly. So, if you find that you wake up a lot in the night and you’re not sure why, or your partner complains about your snoring on a regular basis, your smoking habit could be to blame. If you decide to give up, you should start to see the benefits quite quickly.
Nicotine can make it difficult to drift off
We all know to avoid caffeine close to bedtime or it’ll keep us up at night. But nicotine is also a stimulant that can affect our bodies in a very similar way. So, if you’re partial to a late-night cigarette, but then toss and turn for hours, this could be why. If you’re not sure you’re ready to completely give up smoking yet, avoiding cigarettes for the last two hours of your day can also help.
If you often find that you feel restless and agitated each morning until you have your first cigarette, this could be down to the withdrawal symptoms, too. When you haven’t smoked in a few hours, you might find that your body wakes you up to remind you. While this might continue for a while after quitting, the effects will eventually wear off and you should find that you’re able to have a far more restful night.
If you’ve been struggling to sleep lately, your smoking habit could be to blame. Hypnotherapy can actually help with this. As hypno-psychotherapist Gavid Roberts explains, hypnotherapy has been found to offer one of the most successful methods of helping people to stop smoking – for many, in as little as one session.
“Hypnosis works so well as it’s easy to understand. Smoking, like all habits, is controlled by the unconscious part of the mind. When your unconscious is reprogrammed you don’t have to try not to smoke; the urge is simply no longer there.
“Smoking is a psychological habit triggered by certain stimuli. You must decide that you want to stop smoking.”
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