Quitting Smoking Can Help With Sleep

Reviewed by: HU Medical Review Board | Last reviewed: June 2020

Quitting smoking or vaping is one of the best ways someone can help improve their sleep. This may be because smoking is a stimulant and stimulants make it harder to get to sleep and stay asleep. It may also be because smokers may have other habits that disrupt sleep such as drinking more coffee or alcohol.1

A 2012 study from Germany found that smokers:1

  • Needed more time to get to sleep
  • Slept less each night
  • Had poorer sleep quality than non-smokers

The study also found that the more someone smokes, the worse their sleep.1

What is the process of quitting smoking?

There are 2 parts to the process of quitting smoking or vaping. The first step is to break the body’s physical addiction to nicotine, a chemical found in all tobacco products. Nicotine is a highly addictive chemical that the body quickly gets used to having. When a person quits smoking, this addiction to nicotine can cause withdrawal symptoms and cravings.2

These symptoms tend to go away gradually over 2-3 weeks. However, early on, stopping smoking may make insomnia and other sleep problems worse.2,3

The second step is to break the person’s emotional and mental dependence on smoking or vaping. People who smoke develop strong habits, behaviors, and routines that revolve around smoking. They may smoke at certain times each day, in certain places, or with certain people. These habits become more set over the years.

These mental habits can be as hard to break as the physical addiction to nicotine. Many people find that they need to change their routines slowly before quitting in order to improve their chances of success when they do finally quit smoking.

What techniques can help a person quit smoking?

Using a combination of treatments and support can increase your chances of quitting smoking successfully.

Prescription and over-the-counter treatments

There are several prescription and over-the-counter drugs that can help a person stop smoking. Nicotine replacement products deliver a small amount of nicotine that can help reduce physical cravings. The amount of nicotine is slowly reduced over time. Nicotine replacement products include:4

  • Gum
  • Lozenges or tablets
  • Skin patches
  • Nasal sprays
  • Inhalers

Other types of prescription medicines do not deliver any nicotine. Instead, they work in different ways to reduce a person’s desire to smoke. These include:4

  • Chantix (varenicline)
  • Wellbutrin and Zyban (both contain bupropion)
  • Pamelor (nortriptyline)

Support and therapy

Other types of support and therapy can also make a big impact on helping a person stop smoking, such as:4

  • Counseling
  • Support from family and friends
  • Advice from your healthcare team
  • Guidance and support from apps, and online and telephone smoke-free programs
  • Support groups with other people who are trying to quit smoking

This is little to no evidence that hypnosis, laser therapy, or acupuncture help with smoking cessation.4

What other tips can help smokers quit for good?

Many people have to try several times in order to quit smoking for good. If one kind of treatment or strategy for quitting doesn’t work, don’t give up – try another kind or combination of strategies. Other things people find helpful when they quit include:

  • Try to change your daily routine to avoid situations where or when you used to always smoke or vape.
  • Try to avoid situations where others are smoking or vaping.
  • Identify a reason to quit smoking beyond your sleep. You may want to be healthy enough to play with your grandchildren or improve your grades at college.

Resources to help smokers quit

Your regular doctor or sleep specialist can give you information about local resources and support networks that help people quit smoking. There are also many online resources including:

The American Lung Association also offers a free telephone service: 1-800-LUNGUSA (586-4872) that can provide tips to help you quit smoking.

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