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Insomnia When You Quit Smoking

I can't sleep!

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Updated January 28, 2014

Insomnia When You Quit Smoking iStockphoto

Sleep disturbances are a common side effect of nicotine withdrawal. Some people will sleep much more than usual through this phase of cessation, while others have difficulty getting any sleep at all.

 

If you find yourself suffering from insomnia during the first few weeks after you quit smoking, try a few of these natural remedies to ease your discomforts.

  • Cut out the caffeine. Caffeine is a stimulant. Most people know this, but here's a fact that is less widely known: caffeine in the body of a smoker is metabolized(digested) at about twice the rate as that of a nonsmoker. The result is a high tolerance to caffeine. When you quit smoking, the amount of coffee or colas you're used to drinking might now make you very jittery and anxious. Cut back on, or cut out caffeine completely for awhile, especially if you’re having trouble sleeping through the night. Chances are good that once you're through the withdrawal process, you'll be able to drink coffee again, though maybe not as much as you used to.

    Take a warm bath. This is one of my personal favorite ways to relax and destress. I recommend it often, and YES, it’s good for the guys too! Light a few candles, use some scented bath salts, and submerge!

    Get a massage. Enlist your spouse or other willing pair of hands to help work the stress out of your muscles. If you can get a full body massage, great, but even 10 or 15 minutes spent on your neck, shoulders, face and scalp can really work wonders to relax you to the point of being ready to sleep.

    Have a cup of herbal tea. There are a variety of teas on the market today blended specifically to help soothe and promote sleep. Take a look at the tea section in the supermarket, or visit your local health food store and ask for suggestions.

    Listen to some soothing music. Soft, mellow music can go a long way towards relaxing you enough to drift off to sleep. You may want to try listening to a recording of waves hitting the beach - soft sounds can be a very good sleep aid. Make sure you have a player that will turn itself off - you don’t want to have to get up and do it yourself - defeats the purpose!

    Have a glass of warm milk. Spice it up with a little honey and cardamom or nutmeg. It could well be that the reason warm milk helps us sleep is due to the fact that it is a food rich in the amino acid L-tryptophan. L-tryptophan helps the body produce neurotransmitters such as seratonin. Neurotransmitters are chemical nerve messengers that tell our bodies to shut down at night, as well as helping us to be fully awake during the day. More of the L-tryptophan in milk gets delivered to your brain when you eat a carbohydrate along with it. No wonder milk and cookies have long been a favorite bedtime snack.

    Other foods containing the amino acid L-tryptophan:
    chicken
    eggs
    turkey
    dairy products…milk, cheese, yogurt
    watermelon
    cashews

    Don’t drink alcohol. It disrupts sleep. Though a few drinks may make it easier to fall asleep initially, a person will often wake up just a few hours into their sleep cycle. Frequently, sleep is then intermittent for the remainder of the night.

    Get some exercise. Even a short 15 minute walk will help, but if you can't sleep, try getting out for a nice long walk a few hours before bed.

    Meditate. The value of this exercise is in letting the stress of your day go. Start out by laying quietly, eyes closed, for 5 minutes. When thoughts come, acknowledge them and let them go. Let your mind drift. Build the time up that you do this activity gradually. It’s a terrific way to relax and slow down enough to sleep. Adding meditation to your daily routine will reward you with improved control and calmness throughout your day.

    Read a good book. Climb into bed and settle in for some reading. It never fails to put me out, usually within the first 5 pages.

    Avoid naps. While it may feel good to get a bit of sleep in during the day, if you're suffering from insomnia, you need to skip the naps.

    Get up earlier. Another useful technique to help you shift your internal clock so that you’re sleepy come bedtime.
Remember, the physical withdrawal phase of quitting tobacco is a temporary condition. Your sleep patterns will return to normal soon, providing you didn’t have insomnia before cessation. If symptoms persist beyond the first month or so, schedule a visit with your doctor.

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