12 Ways to Relieve Insomnia When You Quit Smoking

Tips for Insomnia relief when you quit smoking

Verywell / Cindy Chung 

Sleep disturbances are a common side effect of nicotine withdrawal. New ex-smokers might sleep more than usual through this phase of smoking cessation. Our bodies are reacting to the loss of numerous doses of nicotine and other chemicals throughout the day. It can and usually does leave us 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 suffering from insomnia during the first few weeks after you quit smoking, try a few of these natural remedies to ease your discomforts.

1. Cut Out the Caffeine

Caffeine is a stimulant. Most people know this, but here's a fact that is less widely known: Caffeine in the body of a smoker is metabolized (digested) at about twice the rate as that of a nonsmoker. The result is a high tolerance to caffeine.

When you stop smoking, the amount of coffee or colas you're used to drinking might make you jittery and anxious now. Reduce or cut out caffeine from your daily regimen completely for awhile, especially if you’re having trouble sleeping through the night.

Chances are good that once you're through the withdrawal process, you'll be able to drink coffee again, though maybe not as much as you did as a smoker.

2. Take a Warm Bath

Light a few 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.

3. Schedule a Massage

Enlist your spouse or another willing pair of hands to help work the stress out of your muscles. If you can get a full body massage, great, but 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.

4. Have 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.

5. Listen to Soothing Music

Soft, mellow music can help you loosen up enough to drift off to sleep. Try listening to a recording of waves hitting the beach. Soft sounds can be a very good sleep aid. Make sure you have a player or app that will turn itself off. You don’t want to have to get up and do it yourself, as that defeats the purpose.

6. Turn off the Electronics

Whether you have a smartphone, tablet, or laptop, park it at the door of your bedroom and consider silencing it so you don't hear messages or notifications coming in. Leave the TV off, too. Instead, read a book (an actual book, not one on your phone) for a bit to help you get drowsy.

7. Drink a Glass of Warm Milk

Spice it up with a little honey and cardamom or nutmeg. Warm milk helps you sleep due to the fact that it is a food rich in the amino acid L-tryptophan. L-tryptophan helps our bodies produce neurotransmitters like serotonin. Serotonin is a chemical messenger that helps tell the brain to shut down and sleep at night. More of the L-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 containing the amino acid L-tryptophan:

  • Chicken, turkey, fish, and shellfish
  • Eggs
  • Soybean products such as tofu
  • Dairy products 
  • Seeds including sunflower seeds
  • Nuts such as pistachios, cashews, almonds, and hazelnuts

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.

8. Don’t Drink Alcohol

Alcohol disrupts sleep. A few drinks may make it easier to fall asleep initially, but alcohol in the system will often cause you to wake up just a few hours into the sleep cycle. Sleep is then often intermittent for the remainder of the night.

9. Get Some Exercise

Even a short 15-minute walk will help, but if you can't sleep, try getting out for a nice long walk a few hours before bed. Timing is important with this one. Don't exercise just before bed as it revs you up before it slows you down.

10. Meditate

Meditation helps start your day on the right foot and end it nicely, too. As a sleep aid, try muscle relaxation and mindfulness meditation in bed, laying quietly, eyes closed. Start by focusing on the muscles in your body, consciously relaxing them, section by section.

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.

11. Don't Nap

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 suffering from insomnia. You'll pay for it when it's time for bed.

12. 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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Article Sources
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