12 Ways to Relieve Insomnia When You Quit Smoking

Sleep disturbances are a common side effect of nicotine withdrawal. New ex-smokers might sleep more than usual through this phase of smoking cessation. As your body reacts to the loss of numerous doses of nicotine and other chemicals throughout the day, it can leave you feeling foggy and lethargic.

If this describes how you feel, don't fight the need for extra rest. Take naps when you can and get to bed earlier than usual. Your body will bounce back with a little time. On the opposite end of the spectrum are the ex-smokers who have difficulty getting any sleep at all. Insomnia is also a common symptom of nicotine withdrawal.

If you find yourself experiencing insomnia during the first few weeks after you quit smoking, try a few of these natural remedies to ease your discomforts.


Cut Your Caffeine Intake in Half

Smokers metabolize caffeine much faster than non-smokers. As a result, smokers need to ingest more caffeine to get the same effects as nonsmokers.

If you quit smoking without reducing your caffeine intake, your body will quickly become over-caffeinated, which can cause you to feel jittery and irritable. While you don't need to cut caffeine out completely, you may not be able to drink as much as you did as a smoker.

Start by cutting your caffeine consumption by at least 50%. This should provide you with the right amount of caffeine without feeling the symptoms of caffeine withdrawal or being over-caffeinated.

Gradually reduce your caffeine intake instead of going "cold turkey." Quitting caffeine completely can lead to uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms.


Take a Warm Bath

Light a few scented candles, use some scented bath salts, and let the stress of the day go. A warm bath is an excellent way to relax your body and mind in preparation for sleep.


Schedule a Massage

Enlist your partner or another willing pair of hands to help work the stress out of your muscles. While a luxurious a full body massage is great, even 10 or 15 minutes spent on your neck, shoulders, face, and scalp can work wonders to help you unwind and get ready for a good night's sleep.


Drink a Cup of Herbal Tea

There are a variety of herbal teas blended specifically to help soothe and promote sleep. Take a look at the tea section in the supermarket or visit your local health food store and ask for suggestions.


Listen to Soothing Music

Soothing, mellow music can help you loosen up enough to drift off to sleep. Try listening to a recording of waves crashing on the beach. Sounds of rain, thunder, and nature sounds may also be relaxing.

If you listen to music on your phone or tablet as you fall asleep, make sure it is set to turn off automatically. You don’t want to have to get up and do it yourself, as that defeats the purpose.


Create a Digital Curfew

Using electronic devices right before bedtime can make it harder for you to fall and stay asleep. This is because the artificial blue light emitted from electronics like smartphones, tablets, and laptops suppresses the production of melatonin, the hormone that regulates sleep.

Consider turning off your electronics one to two hours before you plan to go to bed. Instead of screen time, try incorporating wind-down activities such as reading (an actual printed book, not one on your phone) or meditation to get your body ready for a good night's rest.


Drink a Glass of Warm Milk

Warm milk helps your sleep because it is chock a sleep-inducing amino acid called tryptophan. Your body uses tryptophan to make the neurotransmitter serotonin, which is then converted into the hormone melatonin.

More tryptophan is available to your brain when you eat a carbohydrate along with it. No wonder milk and cookies have long been a favorite bedtime snack.

Other foods that contain tryptophan include:

  • Cheese
  • Eggs
  • Fish
  • Nuts (such as pistachios, cashews, almonds, and hazelnuts)
  • Poultry (such as chicken and turkey)
  • Seeds (including sunflower seeds)
  • Soy products (such as tofu and soy sauce)

L-tryptophan supplements are not generally recommended as they were previously associated with eosinophilia-myalgia syndrome. Food and drink that naturally contain L-tryptophan are safer choices.


Don’t Drink Alcohol

Even though a drink or two may make it easier to fall asleep initially, it's best to avoid alcohol. Alcohol suppresses rapid eye movement (REM) sleep, meaning that even if you sleep through the night, you won't feel rested in the morning. Alcohol in your system may also disrupt your sleep, causing you to wake up repeatedly throughout the night.


Get Some Exercise

If you can't sleep, try getting out for a nice long walk a few hours before bed. Even a short 15-minute walk can help.

But timing is important with this one. Try to avoid vigorous exercise at least an hour before bedtime as it can make falling asleep even more difficult.


Practice Relaxation Techniques

Consider meditation and progressive muscle relaxation to calm your mind and relax your muscles at the end of a long day.

To try these simple relaxation techniques in bed, lie down with your eyes closed. Begin to alternatively tense and relax the muscles throughout your body, starting with your feet and working your way up.

Next, move on to the thoughts in your mind. Acknowledge each one as it comes and then let it go. Let your mind drift and flow, releasing stress and worry as it goes.

Adding meditation to your morning routine (in an upright position) will reward you with improved control and calmness throughout your day, as well.


Don't Nap During the Day

While it may feel good to finally get some shut-eye, if it's during the day, don't do it. Power naps are not your friend if you're struggling with insomnia. You'll pay for it when it's time for bed.


Start Your Day a Little Earlier

Another useful technique to help you shift your internal clock is to start your day a little earlier. You can use some of the time to meditate, too—a win, win.

A Word From Verywell

The physical withdrawal phase of smoking cessation is a temporary condition. Your sleep patterns will return to normal soon, providing you didn’t have insomnia before you quit smoking. If symptoms persist beyond the first month or so, schedule a visit with your doctor to make sure smoking cessation is responsible for how you're feeling.

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