Why do I feel sleepy after quitting smoking? Here’s why

Why do I feel sleepy after quitting smoking? Here’s why

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Nicotine’s withdrawal symptoms are not the only obstacles during smoking cessation.  We often hear stories about quitters being attacked by intense drowsiness as well.

So why is it that many people feel somewhat sleepier when quitting smoking?  In fact, this is due to an interesting relationship that isn’t immediately clear until you understand a little more about the chemistry of quitting.  This time we’ll introduce the cause of this drowsiness and ways to deal with it.


Why do I feel tired after quitting smoking?

caffeine and cigarettes

Despite enduring the temptation to smoke during the process of quitting, many people experience bouts of drowsiness during the day.  Paradoxically, at the same time many will battle with insomnia when quitting smoking – wait, why insomnia when quitting smoking?  And while at work, many find it difficult to effectively focus on tasks at hand.  So why is this the case?

It turns out there is a chemical called acetylcholine that functions as a neurotransmitter in the brain and body.  This chemical serves both excitatory and inhibitory functions, meaning that it can both speed up and slow down nerve signals.  Normally, nonsmokers are kept awake and alert by the brain’s release of acetylcholine.  The chemical also helps stabilize mood and maintain focus, earning it the nickname “memory neurotransmitter.”  It so happens that nicotine can mimic acetylcholine by binding to its receptors in the brain.  Portions of smokers’ brains “perceive” that they are receiving acetylcholine (when they are actually receiving nicotine) and thus maintain alertness and concentration.  As a result, the brain virtually stops producing acetylcholine.

If you start smoking cessation from this state by going cold turkey, you will have virtually no acetylcholine or gradually decreasing nicotine levels in the brain.  Consequently there is not ample neurotransmitter stimulant to wake the brain.  The brain in turn becomes rather unprotected against naturally occurring drowsiness – and ultimately as a result, people who are quitting smoking can perceive drowsiness far more intensely than non-smokers, while nicotine levels decline and acetylcholine gradually normalize.


5 Tips on dealing with drowsiness (and ways to relieve insomnia) after quitting smoking

feeling tired stop smokingHow long after quitting is it until neurotransmitters return to their normal functionality?  It is said that acetylcholine secretion in the brain is normalized in around 30 days after having your last cigarette.  In other words, if you can overcome this period, these severe bouts with sleepiness and sleeplessness will gradually fall.  Reaching that point, however, can be grueling for some, and particularly when quitters experience nights of insomnia, the temptation to take up smoking again can be great indeed.   Below are some tips on dealing with mid-day drowsiness and ways to fight bouts of insomnia.

  1. Avoid caffeine.
    We all know how coffee can help us stay awake and when we’re feeling drowsy, we want to jolt ourselves awake again with a burst of caffeine.  However, as your body is going through the process of normalizing acetylcoholine levels, caffeine during the day may actually have the effect of keeping you up at night as well.  Additionally, since smokers’ bodies often metabolize caffeine more quickly than those of non-smokers, there can be a tendency for quitters – who are generally used to larger amounts of coffee – to prepare a cup as normal and be hit more intensely by the caffeine.
  2. Switch for herbal tea.
    There are a variety of non-caffeinated herbal tea blends in the market today geared to keep you awake and alert (e.g. ones containing citrus, eucalyptus or mint) or help soothe you asleep (e.g. ones with chamomile, valerian root or lemon balm).  Have a look at the tea aisle in your supermarket or visit a local natural health foods store and ask for recommendations.  Also keep in mind that drinking non-caffeinated tea can keep you hydrated and while helping your body expel nicotine while you are quitting.
  3. Get some exercise.
    Changing up your routine is important after quitting smoking.  Not only can boosting daily activity levels up a little help control post-quit weight gain, but it can have a positive effect on energy spend during the day as well.  Hitting the gym before work and getting outside during lunch time for a brief walk or jog can help rev you up a little more.  Just be sure you don’t exercise too much before going to bed, as it can interfere with your ability to get to sleep.
  4. Mind your diet and sleeping habits.
    Do you tend to have a sandwich, pasta, or otherwise have a fair amount of carbs at lunch?  If you do, you may feel the effects of a food coma 2-3 hours later as your body metabolizes things.  Replacing carbs with protein and fiber may help you avoid feeling drowsy and can help boost energy levels naturally as well.Also, rising a little earlier in the morning can help nudge your body into a new behavior pattern.  By shifting your body’s clock slightly, you may find that your sleep habits also improve.


  5. Unplug.
    These days, we are all plugged in to all kinds of news and social media, consuming all sorts of information.  This can leave our minds feeling revved up and busy even as we try to calm down before sleeping.  Instead, reading a book or paper magazine before turning in can have a calming effect – and many other positive effects as well.


Final word

Drowsiness during quitting is a challenge that can be difficult to avoid unless gradually stepping down nicotine intake.  Some people may think that dealing with this on top of quitting smoking is a tough challenge to deal with.  It certainly can be.  Returning to a “normal” state takes time – both for decreasing the amount of nicotine in the body and for restoring acetylcholine balance.


How can I deal with smoking withdrawal? Tips on relieving symptoms

How can I deal with smoking withdrawal? Tips on relieving symptoms

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What prevents many smokers from quitting – especially by cold turkey – are the nicotine withdrawal symptoms that follow.  Although the period of suffering from smoking withdrawal symptoms is not necessarily long, and often just within a week, many would-be quitters take up smoking again because they can not resist the pain of withdrawal.

The secret to quitting smoking successfully can depend on how well you devise steps to endure and relieve withdrawal symptoms as opposed to plowing on forward.  In this article we will introduce the type of withdrawal symptoms when quitting smoking, the period during which symptoms continue, and ingenuity to reduce the burden due to withdrawal symptoms and to make smoking a success.


What are signs of nicotine withdrawal?

quitting smoking stop nicotine withdrawl cold turkey

Giving up smoking cold turkey will quickly cause nicotine levels in the body to fall, leading to withdrawal symptoms.  Main nicotine withdrawal symptoms include:

  • Really wanting to smoke a cigarette
  • Irritability Getting annoyed easily
  • Declining concentration
  • Headache
  • Malaise
  • Strong drowsiness
  • Insomnia
  • Constipation

Some quitters may also fall into a state of depression due to smoking cessation.

We often hear the story that, “If you quit smoking, you get fat.”  As we have noted in previous articles, there are simple ways to increase activity levels prior to quitting, which can help mitigate weight gain.  However, a key point to keep in mind is that if you have been smoking for a few years or even a decade, you not only have a certain degree of nicotine dependence, but your smoking ritual has become a habit. For this reason, it is easy for ex-smokers to have lonely-feeling mouths, especially in the beginning days of quitting.  When many people experiences these symptoms of tobacco withdrawal, they find they cannot tolerate them and go back to smoking.

Even if you are suffering from such symptoms, try not to be discouraged: it is said that symptoms will gradually improve by continuously cutting off nicotine.


How long do withdrawal symptoms from smoking last?

Fortunately, smoking withdrawal symptoms are transient and do not last for an extreme time.  In fact, most people will reach their peak discomfort within 3 days after quitting smoking.

Peak symptoms cause an intense desire to smoke again, as well as body sluggishness and insomnia.  It is known that most withdrawal symptoms are improved in about 1 to 3 weeks.  However, since the weight of withdrawal symptoms varies depending on your constitution, we recommend that instead of quitting alone, seek out quit smoking support with the help of a counselor, friend who’s quit, support group or online group that you can visit and help maintain your resolve to quit.  In this way, you need not avoid smoking entirely by yourself and can receive free professional guidance.

Also, know that when you are able to stay smoke-free for around 3 weeks, most of the nicotine in your body will have been discharged in one way or another.  Knowing this nicotine withdrawal symptoms timeline what to expect can help you stay motivated.  Keeping your smoke-free goal in mind can help you stay focused on quitting, even if things get a little tougher.


How to deal with nicotine withdrawal symptoms and successfully quit smoking

how to cope with smoking withdrawal symptoms

As mentioned before, a large percentage of people who try quitting smoking – especially cold turkey – without a clear quit plan in mind and without a realistic outlook on what can happen during quitting, will likely not tolerate the pain of withdrawal symptoms and will likely smoke again.  As a smoker, it’s not your fault – it’s all due to the incredible addictive power of nicotine.  Coping with nicotine withdrawal can come down to a few elements.

  • Be realistic.  Nicotine withdrawal is not fun at all.  Stay focused on the reasons why you are deciding to quit.  Writing these down and posting them somewhere you can see them every day may help you stay focused on the end goal even if/when things get tougher.
  • Immediately after getting up, go to your kitchen or bathroom and drink a glass of water.  Before bed, have a glass of water.  Staying hydrated is important especially during the first three days.
  • Consider what behavior patterns (“triggers”) you associate with smoking and look for ways to disrupt them.  For instance, if you typically have a smoke after breakfast, change your behavior pattern: Get up immediately after breakfast, hand-wash the dishes and chew on mint gum instead.  This can disrupt your typical routine as well as keep your mind somewhat distracted as well.
  • Avoiding caffeine when quitting smoking is not necessarily important, but avoiding the triggers for smoking is important.  If you usually have coffee or alcohol with cigarettes, having coffee alone can make you want to smoke and trigger cravings.  If that’s the case, try avoiding caffeine and alcohol for the first few weeks while quitting.  When you do resume coffee, take a little care in how you prepare it: as a smoker, your body would metabolize caffeine more quickly than it does after you quit.
  • Stress may become big as well.  Smaller things may push your buttons far more than they did before you were quitting.  Breathing deeply can help you cope with stress, helping you relax more and stabilize your emotions.
  • Getting a jog in, taking a longer walk, or hitting the gym can not only help decrease stress levels and help you forget about cigarettes, but can also help metabolize and remove nicotine from the body more quickly.
  • Consider a support group – whether online, by telephone or app, or in person.  It does help to have people listen to your situation who understand what you’re going through.  Take strength from them when you need it.

If you find you cannot relieve symptoms or are nervous about starting quitting, keep in mind that there are also treatment methods such as Rien Pipe that gradually reduce dependence on nicotine with minimal withdrawal symptoms.


Final word

Withdrawal symptoms are very painful, peak within around 3 days and typically settle within around 3 weeks.  Knowing what to expect and having a plan on how to cope with potential withdrawal symptoms – especially staying well-hydrated, exercising, and breathing deeply to control stress levels – can help you overcome the period of withdrawal.

Although there are individual differences, withdrawal symptoms due to smoking may cause troubles in daily life, so you need to watch your withdrawal course carefully.  To aid with this, quitting smoking during a time when you’re not extremely busy with work or family matters, may help keep stress levels in check and help make quitting easier.


Why is it hard to quit smoking? Key facts about nicotine

Why is it hard to quit smoking? Key facts about nicotine

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We’ve all heard the lectures and know that smoking is bad for our health.  And despite knowing how bad cigarettes are and the dangers smoking poses to us, our bodies, and to those around us, it is such a horrible thing indeed not to be able to give them up so easily.  Because tobacco has a mental aspect – “nicotine addiction” – while it can be quite difficult to quit smoking, but is still not impossible.

This time we will introduce the characteristics of nicotine, its effects on the body, and how to effectively discharge nicotine remaining in the body by smoking.


Nicotine: The main reason why quitting smoking is difficult

Nicotine has a strong physical dependency.  As humans, we have in our brains what is called a nicotine receptor, which causes pleasure after binding with nicotine.  Nicotine that has entered the blood from the lungs at the time of smoking quickly reaches the brain and quickly triggers a response.  When the brain’s nicotine receptor and nicotine are combined, pleasant dopamine is released, causes a refreshing feeling of relaxation.  As a result, a smoker will feel strongly that they want another cigarette in order to feel the same way.  Since the behavior is self-reinforcing, over time this can lead to smokers strongly desiring to continue smoking, ultimately culminating in nicotine addiction.

Nicotine addiction is recognized in the psychiatric world as being a kind of dependence.  In cases where nicotine addiction is due to severe smoking, outpatient cessation treatment is sometimes considered because the individual may not be able to overcome the addiction on their own.


What is nicotine’s effect on the body?

Although nicotine contained in tobacco produces dopamine, a strong pleasure chemical, by itself nicotine is a strong toxic chemical with multiple effects.  Nicotine is excreted from the body in about two to three days, but nicotine-dependent smokers repeatedly smoke without waiting for nicotine release, and are always trying to incorporate nicotine into the body.

When nicotine in the body decreases, smokers perceive “withdrawal symptoms”.  Smoking withdrawal symptoms include strong stress, irritability, inability to concentrate and the disappearance of a sense of calm.  The combination of these symptoms can cause a smoker to fall into a depressed state.  In addition, smokers who have experienced withdrawal have confirmed the adverse effects it has had on their lifestyle: being bothered by insomnia, not being able to wipe away anxiety, eating disorders, and in some cases trying to dissolve dependence on tobacco with alcohol.  However, if smoking continues, there is a strong likelihood of the smoker developing further severe cardiovascular disorders and diseases such as cancer, so you can see the magnitude of the effect.


What are ways to reduce nicotine in the body?

avoid nicotine withdrawl

By continuing smoking, nicotine will remain in the body and, depending on how much you smoke, may eventually cause poisoning symptoms.  However you can reduce nicotine systematically by taking correct smoking cessation measures.  When a smoker stops smoking, nicotine (which is metabolized into cotinine) is discharged naturally in the urine.  For smokers however the act of quitting is not an easy thing, and there are many cases where people begin quitting smoking, but cannot make it for the three days or so necessary to remove nicotine from the body.  For that reason, it is important to consider what quit approach is right for you and how to improve your constitution along the way.

One of the more straightforward measures how to decrease nicotine levels in body is – you guessed it – exercise.  Because nicotine is taken into the blood and transported to the brain, exercise and raising metabolism levels can make it easier to drain nicotine out of the body through sweating and excretion.  This also promotes the release of nicotine pooled in the liver and kidneys, which can in turn reduce burden on organs.

Also, for smooth discharge of nicotine, drinking water and other liquids is indispensable.  Immediately after getting up and before going to bed, if you drink a glass of water, blood flow improves and it has the function to promote the release of nicotine with urine. If you feel you “really want to smoke”, it is good to first get some hydration in and then see whether you really need a cigarette.

Finally, from the usual point you should try to take food that is effective for smoking cessation.  Particularly effective foods include oranges and other citrus fruits, plus broccoli and ginger, which are rich in vitamins. Vitamins are important nutrients to support metabolism, but smokers tend to be short of vitamins because tobacco chemicals destroy vitamins in the body. To promote the release of nicotine, the presence of vitamins is indispensable.


Final word

There are many people who understand the importance of smoking cessation but who can not quit smoking easily.

When suddenly quitting smoking causes substitutional symptoms due to nicotine, certain nicotine replacement products – like nicotine gum and patches – can assist in slowly tapering off nicotine doses.  Rien Pipe can also be an excellent alternative, as it gradually cuts out nicotine without the need to replace it.  To protect yourself, trying to quit sooner and stop putting it off is best.


Smoking lungs: How long does it take for my lungs to recover from smoking?

Smoking lungs: How long does it take for my lungs to recover from smoking?

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On different health-related TV programs, Instagram and the like, there seem to be a lot of images and videos comparing healthy lungs to those of smokers.

As you know, smokers’ lungs appear rather dark and unhealthy compared to normal bright and pink lungs of non-smokers.  In certain markets, these images are included straight on the surface of cigarette packages as well in an attempt to appeal the dangers of cigarettes.

But when a smoker starts quitting smoking, will their lungs return to a clean, purified state?  Are there ways for smokers to purify or cleanse their lungs?  And how long does it take?  This time, we’ll introduce what happens to lungs after you begin your quit.


Will my lungs heal after I quit smoking?

quit smoking health timeline

Is there a possibility that the lungs darkened by smoking will repair themselves just by quitting smoking?  First of all, the human lung is originally bright pink, due to the number of capillaries and rich blood supply available.  As a smoker inhales cigarette smoke, the tar and other toxins it contains will begin coating their lungs, eventually turning them blackish in color.  It can be said that lungs have become “clean” when they have returned from this into their original pink state.

So how long does it take for lungs to recover?  It is said that it can take about seven years from when a smoker finally quits until their lungs regain a cleaner color.  Although the positive impact smoking cessation has on physical fitness will start appearing soon after quitting, because the lungs are organs directly receiving damage from tobacco, it will take a long time for them to heal.

To facilitate this process, there are several natural ways to detox your lungs, including:

  • Change your diet by eating more antioxident-rich vegetables like artichokes, broccoli, red beans, spinach; plus fruits like apples, blueberries, prunes and grapes; and drink green tea.
  • Exercise more, and aim to get at least 30 minutes of moderate aerobic activity (e.g. jogging, swimming) four to five times a week.  Yoga and breathing exercises may also not only help in improving lung function, but may help counteract some of the stress of quitting.
  • Ensure the indoor air quality of your home or apartment is as high as possible by using a HEPA filter-equipped air conditioner/air purifier.


“Clean” and “healthy” lungs have different meanings

quit stop smoking calendar smoker lungs

As mentioned above, it can take more than 7 years for lungs to return to a cleaner state.  However, this does not mean that lungs once blackened by smoke are now pink, pure and thoroughly cleaned.  In addition, even as the lungs begin cleaning themselves, the risk of lung cancer and other smoking-related illnesses has not necessarily disappeared yet.

It is said that a smoking cessation period of about 10 years is necessary for smokers to once again have a similar disease risk level as non-smokers.  Of course, this is influenced by many factors, such as the number of years you smoked and how much you were smoking.

You can actually estimate a timeline for how long it would take for your lungs to become cleaner by using the following formula:

Number of packs smoked in a day X number of years X 2

So if you were smoking for 10 years at a rate of 1 pack per day, it will take 20 years for your lungs to become much healthier.  Pinker lungs look healthy at first glance, but it is not so easy to completely eliminate tobacco toxins – especially when they have been coated with toxins over the span of several years or decades.

Also, another important factor is the age when you began smoking.  Since the lungs are still forming up until your mid-20s, if you began smoking around age 21, you may have stunted their growth somewhat.


“Purified lungs” aren’t “non-smoker’s lungs”

Although it takes quite some time for lungs to heal and for the risk of disease to return to a level similar to non-smokers, there’s some bad news: the damage done is most likely permanent.  Even after quitting smoking and doing your best to be healthy, the lungs of people who have smoked in the past will not completely return to their original condition.

So does this mean that if you’re older in age, you shouldn’t bother quitting?  Not at all.  A study published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine found that people aged 70+ who were currently smoking were more than three times more likely to die than never-smokers, whereas former smokers were less likely to die the sooner they quit.  Even if your lungs may not necessarily return to their original condition, the overall risk factors associated with smoking will begin to fall as soon as you stop – no matter your age.



Final word

Purification of the lungs takes a very long time of 10 years or more.  Also, although your lungs may become much cleaner over time, they will not be completely restored.  However, if you continue smoking as it is, your lungs will only continue to be damaged.  Please do not forget this point, and keep up your motivation for quitting smoking.

Once you start your smoking cessation plan, your body will begin the process of resetting and healing. Let’s recall the visual of the smoker’s lungs when you seem to be at risk for falling off the wagon.


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