Smoking can have an unwanted impact on your stamina, your energy level, and can even cause you to feel nauseous or fatigued if you go overboard and smoke too much in a single day. But what about at night? Do cigars affect your sleep and can excessive smoking have an impact on your overall quality of sleep? Some studies believe that smoking can contribute to sleep fragmentation, insomnia, sleep apnea, and even snoring. But how?
Nicotine’s Link to Sleep Issues
Smoking cigars or cigarettes can have a negative impact on your sleep and can affect the overall quality of your sleep in many ways. This is all due to nicotine, which is the active ingredient that’s found in most tobacco products.
But the severity in which smoking will affect your sleep will have a lot to do with how many cigars you smoke a day, when, and how often. Nicotine is a stimulant, so smoking too close to bedtime can make it nearly impossible for some people to fall asleep, stay asleep, or get enough sleep each night.
With that being said, some people have reported that smoking actually tends to make them feel sleepy. For some, smoking can promote relaxation and can even relieve anxiety, but for the most part, people’s bodies tend to treat the substance as a stimulant, which is why falling asleep can be a challenge for some.
What to Expect
Smoking is linked with a disruption of sleep architecture, which is the basic structure of sleep. Sleep architecture is essentially the pattern of sleep stages that will occur in the night. Smoking can cause fragmented sleep and can lead to insomnia in some people. In studies conducted on sleep and excessive smoking, it showed that smokers often take longer to fall asleep, tend to sleep less, and are less likely to experience deep sleep, which is also referred to as slow-wave sleep. Trouble staying or falling asleep is a common complaint.
People who quit smoking will not continue to experience these issues and those who have never smoked are less likely to experience these issues and generally enjoy a better quality of sleep.
Currently, there is some evidence that shows that smoking can increase the risk of both sleep apnea and snoring. The irritants in cigar smoke can contribute to the swelling of the airways, especially when it comes to the soft tissue lining in the throat and nose. Lung damage can lead to other issues while also decreasing a person’s oxygen levels at night.
As the tissues in the air passages swell, there is a change in airflow, which can result in vibrations in sleep that will lead to snoring. Additionally, the collapse of the airway that happens in sleep apnea is more likely. Even if you don’t smoke and you’re exposed to secondhand smoke, you’re more likely to experience these complications. This is especially true in children.
Getting a Better Night’s Rest
It’s true, smoking can interfere with your sleep, which comes as a surprise to many smokers who have claimed that smoking actually helps to relax them right before bed. In fact, many people will smoke as a way to unwind after a long day, not even realizing that nicotine can disrupt their sleep as it rushes through their system and can lead to major sleep issues such as insomnia or trouble breathing at night. Whether you smoke cigarettes or cigars, nicotine is not doing you any favors. There are many risks of cigar smoking that people are already familiar with, such as an increased chance of heart disease and lung cancer, but many people simply don’t know that smoking too close to bedtime can have a negative impact on the quality of their sleep.
As you know by now, nicotine is a stimulant. Even if you normally smoke to relax before you go to sleep, the chemical substance is actually telling your body the opposite. Nicotine will increase your mental alertness and heart rate, causing you to feel wide awake when you’re desperately trying to fall asleep.
Additionally, nicotine is fast-acting and addictive. It will enter the brain and bloodstream within a matter of seconds. It will take several hours before it begins to leave your body. If you’re addicted to nicotine like most smokers, then you may even experience some withdrawal symptoms during sleep, especially if you smoke excessively. In some cases, the withdrawal symptoms can be so bad that your brain will wake up in order to get more nicotine, which can interrupt your sleep. If you’ve ever woken up in the middle of the night or at the crack of dawn, craving nicotine, this is why.
The less a person sleeps, the more sleep-deprived they will become. This means you’ll also need to take into account the dangers that come with sleep deprivation, which can worsen your cognitive performance, your ability to focus, your mood, and your energy level. If it becomes chronic, then you can also anticipate more long-term health risks including sleep disorders and cancer.
A Lack of Deep Sleep
As I mentioned earlier, smoking regularly can have a major impact on your sleep structure, which includes the different stages of sleep such as light, deep, and REM. It’s crucial that you spend a sufficient amount of time in each of these phases in order to enjoy a restful night of sleep. There have been many studies conducted that found that smoking has a negative impact on a person’s overall sleeping quality, in addition to the amount of time that’s spent within each stage of sleep. One study showed that every cigar smoked caused the loss of one minute of sleep per night.
Even if you smoke premium cigars, the odds are it takes you a long time to fall asleep, you may not sleep as much as your spouse who doesn’t smoke, and you probably experience less deep sleep compared to a nonsmoker. On average, a regular smoker will sleep thirty minutes less than a nonsmoker and will spend approximately four percent less time in deep sleep.
A smoker is also more likely to feel sluggish and unrefreshed in the morning, compared to a nonsmoker, since they tend to spend more time in the light sleep phase.
A study on mice that was conducted back in 2013 showed that smoking tobacco can severely disrupt the circadian clock. The more the mice were exposed to tobacco smoke, the worse the disruption. Additionally, studies have found that smokers are more prone to mood disorders, anxiety, and depression.
Since nicotine is a stimulant, it can wake the body and mind and cause difficulty falling asleep or something called sleep-onset insomnia. Depending on how addicted you are, you may have trouble even sleeping in, especially if your mind and body begin to crave nicotine during the night or early morning hours.
Vaping and Sleep Issues
You may be considering switching to vaping, thinking it’s a healthier alternative to smoking cigars or cigarettes. But vaping will have the same effects on your quality of sleep. While you may be able to avoid certain health risks that are linked to smoking by making the switch, vaping itself will still deliver nicotine, which is what interferes with sleep. As long as the liquid you use for vaping contains nicotine, then it will have a negative impact on your sleep.
What Happens When You Quit Smoking?
When you quit smoking, you will go through nicotine withdrawal. This can cause you to feel tired and irritable. The brain relies on acetylcholine, which is a type of neurotransmitter that keeps a person alert and awake. When a person smokes, the nicotine works just like acetylcholine as it binds to the same receptors in the brain. And the result? The smoker will feel alert and awake, just like they would with acetylcholine, however, this level of alertness is now due to the nicotine levels in the brain. If you suddenly stop smoking, the brain will not have any nicotine or acetylcholine to rely on, which can cause a person to feel drowsy. Over time, the brain will begin to normalize the acetylcholine levels in the brain. Try cutting back on how much you smoke at night and smoke only half a cigar. If you smoke only top shelf cigars, use the best cigar cutter to slice off the end of the cigar before you relight it the next day, to revive the flavor and to prevent that old burned tobacco taste.
Improving Your Sleep
Quitting smoking is the best way to improve your sleep, but if you don’t want to quit, there are other ways you can improve the quality of your sleep at night. This can include cutting down on how much you smoke a day and refraining from smoking a couple of hours before bedtime, much in the same way that most people will avoid consuming a beverage that contains caffeine.
If that still doesn’t help to improve your sleep, you may need to stop smoking three to four hours before you go to sleep, which can be difficult for heavy smokers. You can also try taking a natural sleep aid, such as melatonin, which is a safe, natural alternative to over the counter and prescription sleep aids. Melatonin is naturally produced by the brain and it’s released during the night and tells your brain it’s time to wind down and go to sleep. Taking a melatonin supplement may be just what you need to help your body and brain relax and allow you to drift off to sleep after a long day.
Aside from avoiding smoking, make sure you avoid other types of stimulants such as caffeine. This will include coffee, chocolate, and soda. While most people are aware that caffeine is a stimulant, they tend to discount certain caffeine sources, such as chocolate, which can have an even bigger impact on the sleep cycle.
You should also try to avoid fatty meals and foods with a high sugar content, late at night. Instead, opt for an herbal tea, which can help to naturally induce sleep. These teas can also help to keep you feeling hydrated and will give your mouth something to do other than smoke.
If you’re not ready to give up smoking, then try making another type of healthy lifestyle change. Regularly exercising can be very beneficial to your sleep. It can provide an emotional and mental energy boost that will help to naturally elevate your mood and can even help you feel happier and more confident. Additionally, working out early in the morning can help you wake up and can work to dispel any feelings of drowsiness or fatigue. It can also work to reset a person’s circadian clock, allowing them to naturally feel more tired by the end of the day.
Use a Smokeless Ashtray
The best cigar ashtrays can be a great solution if you smoke around nonsmokers. If you want to avoid having your spouse or family members breathe in secondhand smoke, which can also have an impact on their sleep, look for a smokeless cigar ashtray, which can significantly reduce how much smoke your loved ones are exposed to.
Create a Routine and Stick to it
Make sure you stop smoking at the same time every day and go to bed and get up at the same time each day, even if it’s the weekend. Make sure your bedroom is dark and cool and avoid any type of electronic stimulating devices such as the TV, your phone, or a computer, at least one hour before bed.
If you’re feeling tired throughout the day, make sure you take a nap if possible. A short twenty-minute power nap can provide you with the type of energy boost you need at the end of the day. But avoid napping longer since doing so can cause you to feel drowsier when you wake up, especially if you fall into a deep sleep.
Even though a cigar is considered a stimulant, many people tend to rely on them as a way to relax. Without cigars at night, you’ll need to find a different way to relax and calm your body and mind. Some options include reading, journaling, a warm bath, light stretching, meditation, muscle relaxation exercises, and deep breathing techniques.
So, do cigars affect your sleep? Now that you know the answer, you can implement some important changes in your nightly routine to help you rest better and sleep throughout the night. This can include avoiding smoking two to four hours before bedtime, sticking to a nighttime routine, trying some more relaxing activities before bed such as reading, and drinking a hot cup of herbal tea to help your body and mind unwind safely and naturally.