How nicotine impacts sleep

Have you ever found yourself hanging out the window, wrapped up in a throw blanket just to get your nighttime nicotine fix? Yup, this is the price you pay for placebo; because, contrary to what your brain tricks you to believe, nicotine does not help you hit the pillow. Smoking is actually a major sleep disruptor, and those ‘few puffs’ before bed actually keep your mind switched on, preventing you from falling into a deep shut-eye sesh.


Next time a smoker tells you that nicotine helps them ‘wind down’ at night, cover your ears. Nicotine is actually a speedy stimulant, increasing the alertness and activity in your brain. ‘If you’re bored, sleepy or tired, nicotine will act as a stimulant to help you feel more alert and awake’ says Amanda Holm MPH, tobacco treatment manager at Henry Ford Health System. Nicotine is not just a one-off  imposter in your bedtime routine, but it has also been proven to trigger or aggravate sleeping conditions. One of the main effects is a shortened ‘deep-sleep’ phase of your snoozing session; Sleeprate have revealed that chronic smokers spend more time in ‘light sleep’ particularly during the early parts of the night. In a research published by Healthline, it’s been revealed that the average adult only spends 110 minutes on average in that much-needed ‘deep sleep’ phase! That doesn’t sound like much, right? With nicotine considerably reducing that time, there is no wonder why experts actively advise against its consumption before bedtime. 


Nicotine does a stellar job at masking your exhaustion too, which pushes smokers to go to sleep later than their non-smoking counterparts. But that’s not the only bad news; it has also been proven that smokers wake up more frequently during the night. Research conducted by Johns Hopkins University revealed that 22.5% of smokers admitted to be struggling with restless sleep, as opposed to only 5% of nonsmokers. Are you ready for some shocking stats? A 2013 study from University of Florida revealed that the average person loses 1.2 minutes of sleep for every (EVERY!) cigarette they smoke. Smoking is also one of the known causes of insomnia, as frequent nicotine consumption can play havoc with your mind’s ability to switch off.  Don’t know about you, but that’s reason enough for us to call it quits! 


Smoking and hitting snooze on your alarm when you wake up don’t go hand in hand either; nicotine increases restlessness in the mornings. The Huff Post revealed that people who smoke within two hours of bedtime experience more frustration in the mornings as nicotine disrupts the sleep-wake cycle as withdrawal symptoms kick in right before the crack of dawn. 


It’s needless to say that the lack of quality sleep is bound to mess with both your mental and physical health, and parting ways with nicotine is one of the key lifestyle changes you can make to promote a good night’s sleep. If you’re struggling to stub it out, you know where to find us!