Quit Support

Lack of sleep and vivid dreams?

Hi, I'm new to this site and figured this is a great place to inquire about some symptoms I've been having.

I quit smoking 2 weeks ago today and ever since I stopped my sleep pattern has been out of whack, I only get around 2 1/2 hours every night. As you can imagine this is quite frustrating as it's interfering with my work and school. My question is, are extremely vivid dreams (usually nightmares) and insomnia something that is common when quitting? And also, how can I go about changing my sleep pattern? I'm extremely restless and although I'm tired my body will just not fall asleep...

I figured lack of sleep would be common the first few nights but I didn't think it would drag on this long.

I've only smoked for 4 years and I quit cold turkey if that makes any difference.

Any advice will be much appreciated. Thank-you :)

6 Replies

Hi AllyssaMarie, Welcome to quit support. interupted sleep and vivid dreams are not unusual and will go . I will search for some older posts we have had about sleep etc. Otherwise Emjay our advisor will be able to help.

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Vivid dreams explained

For those of you who are newly quit, I thought I'd repost the following...

James, one of our lovely Stop Smoking Advisors has found some information that I thought you might all find interesting;

Vivid dreams are found to not be a side effect from stop smoking products. It has been discovered through research that it is part of the recovery process. The brain begins to repair itself and reverse damage caused from smoking. Neurobiologists have discovered that brain cells sprout new axons and nerve fibres during dream sleep. A chemical named serotonin in the brain triggers the brain to dream.

Smoking depletes serotonin production in the brain. When serotonin levels in the brain are balanced it creates a happy and contented state of mind. When serotonin levels are low a depressed and anxious state of mind is created. It is believed that smoking cigarettes can deplete serotonin levels by up to 50%. What compounds this problem is that the brain accepts the chemicals in a cigarette as a serotonin substitute on the basis that any chemical response is better than no chemical response at all. So therefore, when an individual stops smoking, serotonin production improves and the brain begins to compensate itself for lost serotonin production. The brain then produces more serotonin than needed, resulting in vivid dreams and nightmares.

Research has shown that it takes the brain 3 weeks to regulate serotonin levels.

Further research suggests that with an increase in serotonin levels there must be an increase in oxygen levels too. When a person stops smoking, carbon monoxide no longer takes priority over oxygen on the red blood cells. As a result of this change, oxygen levels of the individual increase. More oxygen is carried around the body and to the brain. When the stop smoker sleeps there is a higher percentage of oxygen reaching the brain than when they where a smoker. This process helps promote a process called rapid eye movement (REM) while sleeping. REM is an important process in dream production along with serotonin production.

It is essential to reassure a client that the first three weeks of a quit attempt are crucial. Vivid dreams are all part and parcel of the recovery process and the pathway to a healthier life style.

It is a positive symptom as it is the brains way of repairing itself and returning to a better deeper sleep.

Quitting Smoking

Symptoms of Recovery


This is a positive sign that your lungs are clearing themselves after years of tar and toxins. It may also be caused by the new natural activity of the nasal passages and reactivated cilia.

Can last from a few days to a few months. To soothe these symptoms, drink plenty of water and consider sugar free boiled sweets to keep your throat moist.

Hunger/Weight gain

Cigarettes cause the body to release its own stores of sugar and fat by a drug type of interaction and this acts as an appetite suppressant. When you quit smoking you may find that your taste improves but do NOT substitute cigarettes with food, drink plenty of water, if you crave sweets eat fruit or opt for sugar free sweets.

Some weight gain is normal and can be attributed to metabolic alterations.

What would you rather be;

a) a slightly overweight non smoker or

b) underweight and dead?

Ulcers/sore mouth

these are caused by a chemical change in the make-up of the body tissues when you stop smoking and may last for several days. Ask your Pharmacist or Dentist for advice.

Feeling depressed

It’s not unusual to feel depressed when you stop smoking, this is because so much of your life has revolved around cigarettes. Remind yourself how well you’re doing and of all the benefits of quitting and your reasons for doing so.


This is common after quitting smoking because the intestinal movement can slow down for a short time.

Drink plenty of water, be sure you’re getting enough fibre in your diet and eat more fruit and vegetables.


and an increased tendency to dream. Tea and coffee contain caffeine and without nicotine, your body absorbs much more of this stimulant, which can make you restless, irritable and sleepless for a while. It rarely lasts longer than a week. Do some deep breathing before going to bed, take a bath and drink non-caffeinated drinks.


nicotine is a stimulant so it’s not unusual to feel more tired when you quit smoking. Drink plenty of water, get some fresh air and avoid eating sugary snacks, which will only stimulate you for a short time.

Dizziness & Tingling in fingers

This is due to the improved circulation and increased oxygen to the brain and body, now that the blood vessels are no longer being constricted by carbon monoxide. Should only last between 24-48hrs.


The paradox here is that smokers who had heartburn while they smoked find it disappears, while some smokers, who’ve never had heartburn, often suffer with it for a short time when they quit. Avoid acid producing foods and ask your Pharmacist for advice. Can last between 3 weeks to 3 months (not the same intensity throughout)

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Thank you so much for replying. I will make sure to check previous threads and posts before posting a question to save some time!


It s no problem as long as it helps. :) :)


Omg...I'm the same....day 10 for me now...and the last 4 nights have been horrific....awake most of the night....can't get back again....and having nightmares...that are waking me up and then I can't stop thinking about them...one was about a close friend dying!!!! And really bizarre dreams...odd !! I am so tired from it all!! Glad IM not the only one!!


Sorry...not that I would wish it upon u...lol...just as long as I'm not a complete weirdo ..haha.x


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