Quit smoking and can't sleep? 5 top tips for better sleep

Are you spending your nights staring at the ceiling? Feel like you are constantly waking up throughout the night, or tired the next morning and throughout the day? Welcome to another effect of nicotine withdrawal! One in four people who are trying to quit smoking will suffer from sleep disturbances, so if you are feeling tired, you’re not alone.1,2

What causes sleep disturbances?
The brain is a complex part of our bodies, and we don’t actually know all of the ways in which nicotine withdrawal causes sleep disturbances. What we can tell you is that it affects everyone differently – the greater your addiction to nicotine, the worse the sleep disturbance you may experience. You might also find that your symptoms change during the course of your withdrawal.1

Some of the more common symptoms include:1

  • the quality of your sleep just isn’t as good
  • you wake up briefly lots of times during the night
  • you are awake for long times throughout the night
  • you are tired during the day.

What can you do to help?
Be good to yourself and try to adopt some healthy sleeping habits:

Cut down on the caffeine. It seems obvious, we drink caffeine to wake us up. So when you are trying to sleep, it is the last thing you need. But what you probably didn’t know is that when you quit smoking, your body absorbs almost twice as much caffeine as before, making it even more important that you reduce your caffeine intake.3 Try swapping out coffee and tea with herbal teas when you first quit.

Timetable it in. Try and keep a consistent sleep schedule: go to bed at the same time, and get up at the same time every day, even on weekends. Make sure you set a bed time that lets you get at least 7 hours of sleep.4 Don’t succumb to the need for a nap – you might think that any sleep is good, but if you sleep during the day, you may pay for it when you try and sleep that night.5

Listen to your body. Don’t go to bed unless you are tired, and if you don’t fall asleep after 20 minutes, get up. There is nothing worse than lying in bed waiting for sleep to come.4

Start a relaxing bedtime routine. Turn off your phone, the computer, and even the TV. Have some quiet time for yourself to put you in the mood to sleep. Try a relaxing bath, or read a book. Have a warm cup of milk, or a herbal tea. Listen to some calming music.4,5

Watch what you eat. Try not to eat a big meal before you head to bed. If you are hungry, make sure you stick to light healthy snacks to tide you over to breakfast. Try and avoid drinking alcohol in the evenings too.4

Sleep disturbances can be difficult to deal with and they may even make you feel like you want to start smoking again.2 But have heart, the withdrawal symptoms will fade and you will be back to sleeping like a baby soon.3 In the meantime, we hope our tips for better sleeping habits help get you through the hump of withdrawal and enjoy more of the shut-eye you need.

©Pfizer 2019. Pfizer Australia Pty Limited. Pfizer Medical Information: 1800 675 229. Sydney, Australia. PP-CHM-AUS-1001, 10/2019
  1. Jaehne, A., Loessl, B., Bárkai, Z., Riemann, D. and Hornyak, M. (2009). Effects of nicotine on sleep during consumption, withdrawal and replacement therapy. Sleep medicine reviews13(5), pp.363-377.
  2. Jaehne, A., Unbehaun, T., Feige, B., Cohrs, S., Rodenbeck, A., Schütz, A.L., Uhl, V., Zober, A. and Riemann, D. (2015). Sleep changes in smokers before, during and 3 months after nicotine withdrawal. Addiction biology20(4), pp.747-755.
  3. Better Health Channel. What to expect when you quit smoking. Available at https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/healthyliving/What-to-expect-when-you-quit-smoking?viewAsPdf=true Accessed 14 September 2019.
  4. American Academy of Sleep Medicine. Healthy Sleep Habits. Available at http://www.sleepeducation.org/essentials-in-sleep/healthy-sleep-habits. Accessed 14 September 2019.
  5. VeryWell. 12 Ways to relieve insomnia when you quit smoking. Available at https://www.verywell.com/ways-relieve-insomnia-when-quit-smoking-2824683. Accessed 14 September 2019.