Sleep & Smoking: The Two Can't Co-Exist.

December 5, 2023 · John Gallagher

Will Smoking Disrupt My Sleep Patterns?

Not all coping mechanisms are created equal. While exercise, sleep, and other strategies can leave your body refreshed, others are detrimental to your health and lifestyle. One such activity — smoking — can be particularly harmful to your well-being and long-term health profile. Among other negative physical consequences, smoking can damage your lungs, increase your risk for cardiovascular disease, and disrupt your regular sleep cycle.

How Does Nicotine Impact My Sleep?

Nicotine — the addictive, toxic component of cigarettes — is the main reason why many people don’t get the sleep they deserve. Like caffeine, nicotine is a stimulant. It accelerates your heart rate and forces your body to distribute oxygen at a faster rate. This delays your body’s ability to decelerate your heart rate and calm down in anticipation of the evening. Stimulants like nicotine also increase brain activity, preventing your mind from following your body into a restful state.

Difficulty falling asleep is one of the first symptoms people experience after beginning to use nicotine. New sleep challenges can quickly lead to anxiety, further complicating your path toward nightly rest. The longer it takes to fall asleep, the less time your body has to generate energy, heal wounds, and enter restorative sleep stages.

Studies repeatedly demonstrate a parallel between nicotine consumption and bodily responses that harm sleep quality. These symptoms include:

  • Increased sleep latency
  • Sleep fragmentation
  • Decreased slow wave sleep
  • Elevated levels of daytime fatigue

Studies also indicate a relationship between nicotine use and rapid eye movement (REM) sleep suppression. Withdrawal symptoms can further complicate the impact nicotine can have on sleep and next-day productivity. Many of these negative effects are also symptoms of insomnia and sleep apnea, two sleep disorders with the power to disrupt your mood and productivity on a regular basis.

Smoking + Sleep: An Unforgiving Cycle

A lack of sleep and the resulting fatigue can quickly lead to cyclical nicotine use. Even occasional smoking can disrupt sleep patterns, causing tiredness that sets in the next day. To combat these feelings, people often turn to stimulants like nicotine — perpetuating a damaging cycle. In the process, your body receives less and less sleep, relying more and more on artificial stimulation and naps that interrupt your daily activities.

Alongside the damaging effects of smoking on the body, this cycle can also have serious effects on mental health and well-being.

How to Find Smoke-Free Sleep

Quitting a smoking habit is a difficult challenge. However, the results of quitting, or even decreasing, nicotine consumption, are well worth the risk — especially for sleep. Without a crutch like nicotine, your body can relearn to properly rely on sleep as the energy-restoring process it is. A good night’s rest will also support your body’s various systems in ways that stimulants cannot.

A smoke-free environment is a sleep-friendly environment, but sometimes that’s easier said than done. You can take your first steps toward a smoke-free sleep experience by eliminating smoke in your bedroom, improving your indoor air quality, and creating a system of accountability.

Say Goodbye to Bedroom Smoking

The first step in protecting smoke-free sleep health in your home is a bold one: eliminate all traces of smoke from your bedroom. Protect the room where you sleep as a smoke-free zone, and don’t allow yourself or others to smoke there. Clean items that might hold lingering smoke until you can’t smell or see it.

Separating smoke from your bedroom helps to create a psychological barrier between smoking and sleeping. It also preserves the integrity of your sleep environment and protects your bed sheets, pillows, and other sleep materials from smoke stains.

Elevate Your Indoor Air Quality

Cigarette smoke contains a number of chemicals that linger in the air. These toxins can remain present long after you put out a cigarette. After removing smoking from your bedroom, it’s also important to restore and preserve indoor air quality.

Here are a few ways to improve sleep health by purifying your indoor air:

  • Ventilate all rooms: When possible, open your windows and doors to let outdoor air circulate inside. You may also choose to use an air purifier to more effectively clean the indoor air you breathe.
  • Clean regularly: Focus on areas and cleaning methods that best protect air quality. For example, make sure to dust surfaces and vacuum carpets. This helps remove residue from cigarettes or regular room use.
  • Use natural air fresheners: Stay away from artificial air fresheners that might contain chemicals. Instead, opt for natural air fresheners like fresh flowers or essential oils that keep the house smelling and feeling great.
  • Control indoor humidity: High humidity levels can create an environment where mold and dust mites thrive. Use a dehumidifier or air purifier to regulate indoor humidity levels. Be sure to address any water or moisture leaks before they compromise your humidity.

Stay Accountable for Your Smoke Intake

Accountability with yourself and others is key if you want to avoid smoking long-term. Tell at least one trusted friend or family members about your goals and be honest with them about your progress. Allow them to ask you questions about how your smoking habits have changed for better or worse, particularly when they affect sleep.

Personal accountability is also important in eliminating smoke from your sleep environment. You can stay accountable for personal sleep in many different ways. Some people choose to keep a sleep journal where they record details on their sleep patterns, interruptions, and wake episodes. Other people use sleep apps, participate in a sleep study or establish a regular sleep hygiene routine to make sure they protect sleep quality.

Use the Right Mattress

Eliminating a smoking habit isn’t enough to guarantee high-quality sleep. If you’re truly dedicated to prioritizing sleep on a daily basis, it’s also important to find the right mattress. In the same way that a high-quality mattress can refresh your body and improve your sleep hygiene, a poor-quality mattress can leave you fatigued and irritable.

If you’re looking for an advocate in your search for better sleep, Mattress Warehouse has you covered. Our patented bedMATCH sleep diagnostic program will systematically pair you with mattress options proven to deliver the best quality sleep. The system considers a wide variety of personal metrics — including your height, weight, and sleep style — before suggesting mattress options that already accommodate sleepers with your body type.

Take our bedMATCH quiz today to discover mattress options that deliver the smoke-free sleep you know you deserve.