A person may experience insomnia when they first quit smoking. Insomnia can cause several potential issues, including making it more difficult for someone to quit smoking.

In 2020, 12.5% of adults in the United States, or 30.8 million people, identified themselves as current smokers. In addition, about 16 million individuals in the U.S. live with smoking related diseases.

A person can help improve their overall health by giving up smoking. In recent years, smoking rates have declined from around 21% in 2005 to about 12.5% in 2020. In fact, since 2002, there have been more former smokers than current smokers in the U.S.

However, in any given year, fewer than 1 in 10 smokers succeed in quitting. In 2018, over 50% of adult smokers had tried to quit smoking in the past year. However, only about 7.5% of those who tried succeeded.

Healthcare professionals and nicotine replacement products may help someone quit smoking. They may also help with preventing withdrawal symptoms such as insomnia. Some evidence suggests that insomnia can increase the risk of unsuccessful attempts to quit smoking.

This article explores what insomnia is, how quitting smoking can cause it, tips to manage it, and the benefits of quitting smoking.

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Insomnia is a sleep disorder that affects many people. It may cause a person to have difficulty falling asleep, getting good quality sleep, or staying asleep. It can cause issues such as:

  • day-time sleepiness
  • waking too early in the morning
  • impaired judgment or thinking
  • interference in daily activities

A person’s stress level, age, lifestyle, family history, and environment can all contribute to or help with insomnia.

Quitting smoking can cause various potential side effects relating to nicotine withdrawal, including insomnia. Other common symptoms include:

Insomnia and other symptoms of quitting smoking often go away after a short time. They tend to peak around 3 days following cessation and are generally the worst during the first week. However, the intensity and duration of withdrawal symptoms vary from person to person.

Insomnia may also contribute to the inability to quit smoking. In a 2017 study, researchers found sufficient evidence to support previous studies indicating that insomnia can increase the risk of someone being unable to quit smoking.

A 2020 study found similar results, indicating that people who experience insomnia have a higher risk of being unable to quit.

As a result, treating insomnia may make the difference between successful and unsuccessful attempts to quit smoking.

A person can take several steps to help manage their insomnia at home without medication. Health experts often refer to this process as improving sleep hygiene. This involves someone making several changes to their routines and lifestyle.

Steps to improve sleep can include:

  • avoiding caffeine later in the evening and afternoon
  • creating a cool, dark, and comfortable environment in the bedroom to promote sleep
  • avoiding heavy meals or alcohol before bedtime
  • avoiding screens at night in the bedroom, including cell phones, computers, TV, and other devices
  • setting a regular sleep time, including consistent bedtime and wake up time
  • doing regular physical activity during the day

A person may find that using a nicotine patch affects their sleep. People may find that taking the patch off an hour before bed helps them sleep.

If taking steps to improve sleep hygiene does not work, a person may wish to consider over-the-counter or prescription sleep aid medications for short-term use. However, they need to speak with a doctor before taking any type of sleep aid medication.

Learn more about home remedies for insomnia.

Quitting smoking can have a major effect on someone’s overall health and vitality, including a longer life expectancy and improved quality of life.

One major benefit is a reduction in the risk of developing cardiovascular disease. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), a person can decrease their risk of experiencing a heart attack within 1 year of stopping smoking.

Some additional benefits someone may experience when they quit smoking include:

  • reduced risk of certain cancers and long-term disease
  • improved overall health and quality of life
  • reduced financial burden on the person who smokes and the healthcare system
  • reduced risk of secondhand smoke to friends, family, coworkers, and others
  • health benefits for pregnant people and their babies
  • increased life expectancy by as much as 10 years

Nicotine withdrawal associated with quitting smoking can lead to symptoms, including insomnia. A person with insomnia may have difficulty falling asleep, staying asleep, and getting a restful sleep. This may lead to tiredness and impaired cognitive and physical functioning.

If a person has insomnia due to withdrawal, it may go away within a few days as their body adjusts to not having nicotine. They can use nicotine patches to help them quit smoking, but using them at night may worsen their insomnia.

In addition, a person can take steps to improve their sleep at home, such as avoiding caffeine later in the day and making changes to their sleep routine.

A person can speak with a doctor if their symptoms of nicotine withdrawal or insomnia persist. A healthcare professional may recommend additional treatment options or lifestyle changes to help with withdrawal or insomnia.