The importance of sleep is often overlooked by ex-smokers. After surgery, doctors usually advise their patients to sleep and get plenty of rest. It is during sleep that much of your body’s natural restoring happens. Adequate sleep minimizes the uncomfortable side effects of quitting smoking, too! Consider the numerous health benefits of sleeping during your quit.
Health Benefits of sleep
During a quit, you want to be fair to your body and give it the rest it deserves. Sleep allows you to function at your best. For example, the brain goes through a cleansing process during sleep, flushing out waste products. This housecleaning is vital to paying attention, reacting to signals, or retaining information. Sufficient sleep affects your mood, and can minimize irritability and restlessness. Sleep studies show that inadequate rest increases risk of depression and substance abuse.
Sleeping provides the body time to rejuvenate. Muscle repair, memory consolidation, and release of hormones regulating growth and appetite occur during sleep. Natural levels of the hormone cortisol decline at bed time and increase overnight to promote alertness in the morning. Sleep also helps us thrive by contributing to a healthy immune system. For diabetics, getting enough sleep is especially crucial and can have an impact on their morning sugar readings.
Sleep and weight gain concerns
Sleep plays a critical part in weight management, too. It allows you to balance your appetites by helping to regulate two hormones, Leptin and Ghrelin, which influence feelings of hunger and fullness. So when you’re sleep deprived, you might feel the need to eat more, which can lead to weight gain.
Sleep as a coping tool
Remember the acronym: H.A.L.T. When you allow yourself to become too Hungry, Angry, Lonely and/or Tired, odds are that the urge to smoke will appear and/or increase. Taking a nap can be a helpful coping tool. Since sleep is about rest and relaxation, it's good for stress management. Plentiful rest allows you to function at a higher level and concentrate better.
Are you getting enough sleep?
Different age groups need different amounts of sleep, but sleep needs are also individual. For adults, the recommendation is between 7 and 8 hours of sleep daily. Are any of these true of you? If so, you may not be sleeping enough:
- I depend on caffeine to get me through the day.
- It takes me a long time to feel like I'm in 'high gear'.
- I get sleepy when driving.
- I often fall asleep in meetings, movies, etc.
Dealing with insomnia
Most smokers will note changes in their sleep patterns after quitting, and quit-smoking medications can exacerbate the problem, but these disruptions seldom last very long. Below are some healthy sleep tips for early recovery (and beyond):
- Don't make a big deal over insomnia -- it won't last forever, and can't make you relapse.
- Routine helps us get tired; create a sleeping and or nap schedule that works for you.
- Take a warm shower to help you relax, and/or utilize a humidifier for comfortable breathing.
- De-plug yourself two hours before you are scheduled to go to bed. Turn off any electronics such as cell phones, laptops, tablets. Electronic devices are known to interfere with the body’s natural ability to produce melatonin, a natural hormone that causes you to feel less alert, ready to sleep.
- Avoid strenuous exercise, heavy eating, or alcohol right before bedtime.
- Surround yourself with comfortable pillows and blankets, keep your room dark, and/or use a sleep mask to block out light. Clear your mind with the help of some relaxing music, nature sounds, white noise ambience, etc.
- If you've been tossing and turning for too long, get up, drink water, and do something else like read or write for a while. Your tiredness will soon take you back to bed with a better disposition.
Sleep is vital to your health and to your quit. Make sleep a priority in your daily routine. Sleep will help you endure the uncomfortable feelings associated with cravings. You will feel better physically and mentally. Reward yourself with the gift of sleep, and be happier! Keep The Quit!