You’ve quit smoking so that you can live a healthier, happier life. Maybe after you kicked the habit, you picked up a couple of healthier ones like eating a more balanced diet, getting more exercise, or managing your stress. But what about sleep?
Sleep is something we often take for granted. We all need sleep, and yet it may be the first thing that is sacrificed in a busy day. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 25% of U.S. adults experience insufficient sleep or rest. Crankiness, difficulty concentrating, and fatigue can be a direct result of not getting enough sleep. A good night's rest is important to both physical and mental health. Chronic sleep deprivation has been linked to greater risk for obesity, depression and anxiety. Another alarming statistic estimates that, each year, 100,000 police-reported crashes are related to driving while tired!
Many ex-smokers complain of having trouble falling asleep or staying asleep after quitting smoking. While sleep woes are a common and frustrating complaint among recent quitters, they are also temporary. Nicotine’s effect on sleep is largely due to its stimulant properties which keep the body and mind in alert mode instead of wind down mode. In addition, since the body goes without nicotine for a long period during sleep, smokers may awaken earlier in response to withdrawal. Smoking is also a risk factor for an array of sleep disorders including sleep apnea, insomnia, and exaccerbation of restless leg syndrome. Ultimately, quitting smoking is the best thing you can do to rest easier!
Knowing you need more sleep and actually getting more sleep can be two different things. While sleep needs vary, the average adult needs roughly between 7-8 hours of sleep. Quality of sleep, however, is just as important as the amount of sleep you get. Here are some simple tips to getting more and better quality sleep.
First, invest in your sleep environment. Proper support, including mattresses and pillows tailored to individual bodies and sleep styles, can help improve sleep quality. Also keep your bedroom dark and the temperature cool.
Second, go to bed and get up at around the same time every day, including on weekends. Creating a consistent sleep and wake schedule helps regulate the body's internal clock. It's slightly more important to wake up around the same time of day as it's easier to force yourself to wake up than it is to force yourself to be sleepy.
Third, avoid alcohol and caffeine 4-5 hours before bedtime. Beer, wine, soda, coffee, tea, etc. signal the brain to stay awake and can take several hours to clear the body.
Last, restrict your bedroom activities to sleep and sex. This means keeping electronic devices—TVs, ipads, cell phones, books (electronic or otherwise) and other distractions—out of the bedroom. Even backlighting produced from these devices is a powerful cue for your brain to stay awake.
Pick up getting more sleep as a healthy habit and you will not doubt be rewarded with feeling good, alert, and energized.