Withdrawal symptoms from nicotine are not the only obstacles to quitting smoking. We often hear stories of slackers who are also attacked by severe drowsiness.
Why do many people feel a little more sleepy when they stop smoking? This is indeed due to an interesting relationship that only becomes apparent once you learn a little more about the chemistry of quitting. This time we will introduce the cause of this drowsiness and ways to deal with it.
Why do I feel tired after quitting smoking?
Despite the temptation to smoke while quitting, many people experience daytime sleepiness. Paradoxically, many struggle with insomnia at the same time when they quit smoking – wait, why insomnia when quitting smoking? And while at work, many find it difficult to concentrate effectively on the tasks at hand. Why is that?
It turns out that there is a chemical called acetylcholine that works as a neurotransmitter in the brain and body. This chemical has both excitatory and inhibitory functions, which means that it can both speed up and slow down nerve signals. Usually, non-smokers are kept awake and alert by the release of acetylcholine by the brain. The chemical also helps stabilize mood and maintain focus, and is nicknamed the “memory neurotransmitter.” So it happens that nicotine can mimic acetylcholine by attaching to its receptors in the brain. Parts of the brains of smokers “sense” that they are receiving acetylcholine (when they are actually receiving nicotine), thus maintaining alertness and focus. As a result, the brain practically stops producing acetylcholine.
When you start smoking cessation by getting a cold turkey, you will be practically zero acetylcholine or gradually lowering nicotine levels in the brain. As a result, there isn’t enough neurotransmitter stimulant to wake the brain. The brain, in turn, becomes more vulnerable to naturally occurring sleepiness – and ultimately, people who quit smoking may experience sleepiness far more intensely than non-smokers as nicotine levels decrease and acetylcholine gradually normalizes.
5 tips for managing drowsiness (and ways to get insomnia relief) after quitting smoking
After quitting, how long does it take for the neurotransmitters to return to their normal functionality? It is said that acetylcholine secretion in the brain is normalized in about 30 days after your last cigarette. In other words, if you can overcome this period, these severe attacks with drowsiness and insomnia will gradually decrease. However, reaching this point can be exhausting for some people, and especially when slackers experience nights of insomnia, the temptation to start smoking again can indeed be great. Below are some tips on how to deal with midday sleepiness and ways to combat insomnia.
We all know how coffee can help us stay awake, and when we feel drowsy we want to shake ourselves back up with a dash of caffeine. While your body goes through the process of normalizing acetyl alcohol levels, caffeine during the day can actually keep you awake at night as well. Since the body of smokers often metabolizes caffeine faster than that of non-smokers, it is also possible that slackers – who are generally used to larger amounts of coffee – prepare a cup as usual and are hit harder by the caffeine.
Switch for herbal tea.
There are a variety of non-caffeinated herbal tea blends on the market these days that are designed to keep you awake and alert (e.g., those containing citrus, eucalyptus, or mint) or to help calm your sleep (e.g. . those with chamomile, valerian root or lemon balm). Check out the tea course in your grocery store or stop by a local health food store and ask for recommendations. Also, keep in mind that drinking non-caffeinated tea can keep you hydrated and help your body excrete nicotine while you are quitting.
Changing your routine is important after you quit smoking. Increasing your daily activity level can not only help control weight gain after you stop exercising, it can also have a positive effect on energy expenditure during the day. Going to the gym before work and going outside for a short walk or jog during your lunch break can give you a little more rest. Just make sure you don’t exercise too much before bed, as it can affect your ability to fall asleep.
Pay attention to your diet and sleeping habits.
Do you have a sandwich, pasta, or some other decent amount of carbs for lunch? By doing this, you can feel the effects of a food coma 2-3 hours later as your body metabolizes things. Replacing carbohydrates with protein and fiber can help you avoid drowsiness and increase energy levels naturally. Getting up a little earlier in the morning can also help set your body into a new behavior pattern. If you shift your body’s clock slightly, you may find that your sleeping habits improve too.
Pull out the plug.
Today we are all connected to all kinds of news and social media and consuming all kinds of information. This can make our minds feel energized and busy, even as we try to calm ourselves down before bed. Instead, reading a book or paper magazine before submitting it can have calming effects – and many other positive effects.
Drowsiness on quitting is a challenge that is difficult to avoid unless nicotine intake is gradually reduced. Some people may think that dealing with this in addition to smoking cessation can be a difficult challenge. It can be safe. Returning to a “normal” state takes time – both to reduce the amount of nicotine in the body and to restore the acetylcholine balance.