Despite being banned from an increasing number of public spaces, tobacco still has a huge effect on millions of people’s private lives.
Nicotine is the principle drug in tobacco products. Nicotine is a stimulant, and it causes major changes in the brain’s neurochemistry that affect the quality of your sleep.
Nicotine’s Effects on Sleep
In general, nicotine addiction causes insomnia-like symptoms. Its effects are greatest for those who are already prone to sleep issues.
Smokers, compared to non-smokers, have:
- Less total sleep than non-smokers,
- Longer sleep latency—which means more time trying to fall asleep,
- Reduced time in deep sleep,
- Increased levels of sleep fragmentation, including more middle-of-the-night awakenings, and
- A bigger risk for sleep apnea than non-smokers.
For heavy smokers, withdrawal symptoms also disrupt sleep when nicotine levels drop in the early morning. A flood of neurochemical changes forces the brain awake, whether or not more sleep is needed.
On the Bright Side
The good news is, if you use tobacco products and regularly have trouble sleeping, you may have found the culprit!
Countless studies show that sleep improves greatly—and rather quickly—after quitting.