Smoking Causes Sleep Deprivation

Patient Expert

A new study shows that smoking disrupts sleep in two ways. First, as bedtime approaches, the smoker has a final "relaxing" smoke before retiring. That smoke may seem relaxing, but nicotine (the drug found in tobacco) is actually a stimulant, and smoking that cigarette is almost as sleep disrupting as drinking a cup of coffee.

But smoking disrupts sleep in yet another way. During the night, you go hours without a cigarette. This leads to discomfort and mild withdrawal, making it difficult to fall into a deep sleep. The light sleep is not sufficient for the smoker to awake refreshed (and struggle with his smoker's cough) in the morning.

What is nicotine? According to Webster's Dictionary - nicotine, is a"poisonous alkaloid" and the "chief active principle of tobacco and is used as an insecticide." Some studies have reported that nicotine is as addictive as heroine or cocaine.

And yet, day after day, week after week, year after year, people smoke, chew or sniff tobacco, and with the tobacco, nicotine. Hard to believe, isn't it, that folks could be that foolish. Yet they are. I know. I was. I smoked for fifty years, as much as two packs a day, dragging that poison into my body. I quit over ten years ago, but I'm still suffering from the effects. I have COPD and I have to use oxygen. This limits me in many ways.

One of the sorriest sights I ever saw was when I visited my husband in the hospital. Sitting outside in a wheelchair was a man. He was "enjoying" an after lunch cigarette. He was smoking it through a hole in his throat. This is a true testimony to the addictive and habit forming potential of cigarettes. Here was a man whose health had no doubt been ruined by years of smoking. Yet he still clung to the villain that was killing him.

The author of the study on sleep and smoking, Naresh M. Punjabi, MD, PhD, FCCP, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, made one statement that really caught my attention. He wanted the study to involve only healthy people, but: "Finding smokers with no health conditions was challenging," Dr. Punjabi said. He doesn't say that smoking caused any or all of these health conditions, but that statement definitely implies it.

Smoking can cause sore, scratchy throat, headaches, cough, and on to the biggies: COPD, emphysema, and lung cancer. It aggravates many sleep-related disorders - snoring, bronchitis and sleep apnea.

Why not quit smoking and get a good night's sleep?