Yay – you quit smoking! And now apparently you’ve quit sleeping, too, because ever since you quit smoking you can’t get to sleep for longer than maybe an hour or so at a time. You’re exhausted, and you believe you’ll fall asleep like a baby, but you just plain can’t! Why does quitting smoking cause insomnia?
Welcome to nicotine withdrawals. You may sleep great for the first few days, but that’s because nicotine is still in your system, and nicotine takes about 72 hours to flush out of your system entirely. In fact, you probably slept a lot more when you first quit smoking due to the stress, anxiety and mental fatigue quitting smoking caused you emotionally. But now you toss and turn, and you can’t get to sleep.
For a few weeks, you can expect your body to be very restless since it is trying to acclimate to its new healthier surroundings. This is why you get insomnia at night – you’re anxious but you don’t know why, you feel light-headed (that’s just your increased oxygen levels) you feel tingly all over, and you’re back-and-forth with being hot and cold. You can’t get your mind to shut up – and it won’t, either. Not until about week three when it finally figures out how to trigger its dopamine receptors without nicotine to do the job. Your body is in overdrive trying to figure out how to function without the addiction it’s used to, and actually waiting for the nicotine load that hasn’t arrived. You can imagine how your body won’t let you sleep when it’s still waiting for that nicotine fix!
Don’t worry though – the amazing brain of yours will quickly retrain itself to no longer rely on nicotine and will learn to release dopamine based upon normal functions, like laughter, sexual heightening and chocolate. In the meantime, try cutting back on caffeine. Your body metabolizes caffeine at half the rate it used to when you smoked, so you don’t need to drink as much caffeine to feel its effects. Before too long, your body will return to normal function and will quit being in that constant state of alert that is keeping you up at night.
Try listening to music as you sleep or having an herbal tea before bed. Keep your room temperature cool with a large blanket to offset those hot/cold moments, and do your best to just fall asleep naturally. Eventually, your body will allow you to sleep at night with your new healthy routine.