Smokers more often suffer under sleep disturbances
Studies show that smokers normally start into their day poorly rested. The ingredient nicotine is the reason for the stimulating effect during the day, the resulting nightly withdrawal symptoms are often leading to sleep disturbances. Nicotine is an alkaloid which makes quickly addictive.
Although smokers are not allowed to smoke in restaurants and public institutions the rate of smokers still is high: about 25 % of all grown-ups regularly smoke. And 5 % of occasional smokers can be added. Only in the European German speaking area (100 million inhabitants) there are 30 million people smoking regularly.
It’s not easy for smokers. It is a known fact that the smoke increases the risk for cancer and cardiovascular diseases as well permanently weakens the immune system. Smoking belongs to the most frequent avoidable causes of death. A couple of years ago, US-scientist Naresh Punjabi and her team offered another reason for smoking cessation: non-smokers have measurably better sleep!
Smokers have fewer phases of deep sleep
In their study, the group of scientists from the John Hopkins University, Baltimore, recorded the sleep-phases of 40 smokers and 40 non-smokers and compared their sleeping patterns. The sleep of the participants was recorded polysomnographic, meaning that not only the brain waves (EEG) but also breathing, circulation, snoring, activities of heart, muscles and eyes were recorded. Preconditions for participation on the study were complete health and that the participants didn’t take any sleep interfering medication.
The day after the measurement the participants had to reflect their own impressions on their sleep. The summarized result is, that smokers don’t sleep as deep as non-smokers. And in the morning they are not really feeling rested. The scientists assume that mainly the stimulating effect of nicotine -– which prevents from falling asleep -– and withdrawal symptoms during the night which lead to a restless sleep, are the main reason for this.
When the scientists evaluated the EEG in which the single phases of sleep were measured by the occurring brain wave frequencies it became visible that the delta waves (0.1 – 4.0 Hertz) of non-smokers were longer than the ones of smokers. Delta waves indicate the mostly dreamless state of deep sleep. Smokers on the other hand showed longer periods of alpha waves (8 – 13 Hertz). These waves signalize light sleep or simply relaxed dozing with closed eyes.
Asked for their own experiences, 20 % of the smokers stated that they really had a restless sleep and only a few of them felt recovered. Only 5 % of the non-smoking group reported these facts.
The scientists assume that the negative aftereffects of the neurotoxin nicotine especially happen during the first third of the night in form of withdrawal symptoms. The EEG-examination supports this thesis; the brain activities of smokers and non-smokers most clearly differ during the first sleeping phases.
In other studies, the influence of the complete nicotine cessation in the course of a withdrawal was examined. Here it clearly showed that most participants showed partly massive sleep disturbances during their first time of withdrawal. In comparison to the control group, especially the times of wakefulness and micro-arousals were increased and phases REM-sleep were decreased. Episodes of micro-arousals are defined as an abrupt change as well as voltage fluctuation of the frequencies of the brain waves combined with an enhanced motoric activity and heart frequency. These episodes don’t lead to waking up or a state of wakefulness.
Summarized, frequent smoking as well as complete nicotine withdrawal lead to sleep disturbances. This temporarily complicates the stopping. Out of this reason, professional support with nicotine-substitutes or withdrawal methods which include possible sleep disturbances and other withdrawal symptoms like weight gain, nervousness etc. are advisable.
Further information in the following articles: how to become a non-smoker, the proof that becoming a non-smoker makes you happy as well as advice after quitting and for persistence!
This post is also available in / Diesen Beitrag gibt es auch in: German