Smoking at Night: Good or Bad for a Healthy Sleep?

by Aishwarya Nair on Dec 1 2020 8:42 AM

Smoking at Night: Good or Bad for a Healthy Sleep?
Smoking cigarettes at night has a very strong link with poor sleep. A new study shows that people who smoke at night suffer from frequent insomnia (sleeplessness) compared to those people who smoke at the earlier times of the day.
Insomnia is one of the most common nicotine withdrawal symptom. Nicotine is a chemical stimulant that speeds up messages travelling between the brain and the body. It is a psychoactive agent and is present in tobacco products.

Nicotine is present in products like cigarettes, cigars, pipe tobacco, chewing tobacco, and wet and dry snuff and the dried leaves from the tobacco plant. Electronic cigarettes ( E-cigarettes) do not contain tobacco but may contain nicotine.

The study examined the association of the severity of insomnia, sleep duration with the role of smoking period and time. Researchers wrote in the Journal Sleep Health that sleep hygiene must be considered and incorporated into smoking cessation efforts.

Dr. Michael Grandner of the University of Arizona College of Medicine in Tucson said,” While many people smoke to relax, nicotine is a stimulant. For this reason, people who smoke - especially at night - have worse insomnia and are more likely to get insufficient amounts of sleep"

Poor sleep leads to a plethora of diseases. Insomnia also increases the healthcare cost and burdens the patients.

Dr.Grandner told, “ Insomnia and sleep loss lead to increased stress and could lead to more smoking. So you really have a perfect storm of poor sleep and smoking. "

Dr Grandner and team analyzed the data from the Sleep and Healthy Activity Diet Environment and Socialization study. It included adults from Philadelphia aging between 22-60 yrs. The data was collected between 2012-2014.

Self-reported smoking status for cigarettes and other tobacco products, the timing of smoking, insomnia severity and sleep duration were studied.

Smokers had 2.5 times greater chances of experiencing moderate to severe insomnia than non-smokers. Smoking is also linked to 3.3 fold higher odds of a very short duration of sleep (that is 4 hours or less than that).

Night time smoking was significantly associated with greater intensity of insomnia and short sleep. Smoking between 11.00 pm and 2.00 am had the highest likelihood of short sleep (in terms of sleep duration).

Smoking between 11.00 pm to 2.00 am showed 2.4 times increase in the risk of experiencing insomnia. Late night smoking from 2.00 am to 5.00am was associated with 2.5 times increased risk of insomnia.

The thing that was surprising was that it wasn't just the long-term effects of smoking that were bad for sleep health, but likely the short-term stimulant effects of the nicotine itself. Maybe people are more likely to smoke at night because they had worse sleep in the first place . . . I look forward to exploring that in the future.", said Dr.Grandner

Future research can help untangle the complex relationship between timing of smoking and sleep. If smokers change the timing or amount of nicotine intake around bedtime, they are more likely to have a better sleep.

"Considering how important sleep is for physical and mental health, research surrounding ways to optimize sleep can have far reaching public health implications," said Dr. Christine Spadola of the Florida Atlantic University College of Social Work and Criminal Justice in Boca Raton.

Dr Spadola, who was not involved in the study stated smoking within 4 hours of bedtime will lead to reduction in sleep time by at least 48 mins.

"It can be extremely difficult to quit smoking" she mentioned. "If smoking cessation is not possible, guidance surrounding ways to time nicotine use to alleviate the negative impact on sleep can be useful."