Nicotine is a stimulant that increases the heart rate and induces many different chemical reactions in the body at the same time, so it is no surprise that after you quit smoking you will have some sleep adjustments to make. These can be especially difficult during the first few weeks when your body is just getting used to not having an ample and steady supply of nicotine.
There are two main types of sleep disruptions that will occur when you quit smoking. The first is the restless night disruption. This is when you are trying to sleep and are unable to, or when you wake up every hour throughout the night. When you get up in the morning you feel like you got no rest at all and have to face your day feeling drained. Unfortunately this is extremely common for people who have recently quit smoking.
When you are unable to sleep after quitting cigarette smoking your body is going through withdrawals. It is both craving the nicotine, and working hard to eliminate all the toxins that months, or years, of smoking have built up in your system. Instead of resting your body is working overtime to get you back into a homeostatic state, a state of balance.
The second disruption that is likely to occur is the exhaustive sleep disruption. This is less a disruption of your sleep as it is a disruption of your life. It is not uncommon for many who have recently kicked the habit to sleep upwards of 12 to 20 hours at a time. This can seriously disrupt your daily life for the short period in which it may occur.
It usually occurs because your body has been working overtime for a period, trying to clear out toxins and reach that homeostatic state. This exhausts your body. Couple that with the lack of the stimulants found in cigarettes and the restless nights you may have experienced earlier in the week an you have a situation in which your body becomes seriously sleep deprived. Since your body holds a deficit for sleep you miss and it is cumulative, all the sleep you have missed in the past week will need to be made up for. Your body may go into a deep and heavy sleep to try and regain these lost hours of rest. The good news is it will usually only last for a night or two and you will wake up feeling refreshed and well rested.
To adjust for these possible situations you should plan to have at least eight to nine hours set aside for sleeping, and schedule it at the same time every day. Try to avoid any television or other electronics an hour before bed to ensure you are not “wired” when your body is in need of rest. Picking up a book or making a journal entry is a good idea just before bed that can relax you and put you in a calm state. You should also avoid coffee and sodas in the later hours of your day.
If you can make it through the first two weeks after quitting your body will return to a normal sleep pattern. Usually the first few days are the worst and it gets less intense as the days go by, so remember to set aside plenty of time to rest and good luck in kicking the habit.