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.