February 17, 2012

How does smoking affect your sleep?


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There are many things that can disturb our sleep patterns, from sleep apnea to stress. Chronic sleep loss can cause many issues such as weight gain, a weakened immune system, depression, and chronic fatigue. Many people don’t realize how fragile our ability to sleep really is; it can be easily disturbed by anything. This includes cigarettes. In fact, smoking is a major disruptor of your sleeping habits. Let’s take a close look at how smoking cigarettes hinders your ability to get a good night’s sleep.

One way that smoking harms your sleeping patterns is by disrupting what doctors and researchers call the sleep architecture. The sleep architecture is the structure of your sleep—the patterns of sleep cycles that constitute your entire sleep experience during the night. You should typically move through a cycle that ranges from light sleep to deep sleep, optimally without waking up in between stages. Smokers experience something called sleep fragmentation with regards to their sleep architecture. This is something that can affect anyone, but smokers are four times more likely than nonsmokers to experience interrupted sleep. Smokers have a harder time falling asleep and staying asleep than non smokers. Smokers are also less likely to fall into a “deep sleep” stage of sleeping which is a vital part of resting and rejuvenating your body during the night. Thus, smokers are not able to get the proper rest that they need during the night. Since the tired body of a smokers is more susceptible to illness and stress, smokers are at an even higher risk of getting sick or feeling glum because their bodies are working overtime to combat the toxins from tobacco.

Smoking can also increase the risk of sleep apnea. Sleep apnea is characterized by loud snoring and a loss of breath that causes the sleeper to wake up continuously through the night. Since smokers obstruct their airways with cigarette toxins and their mucus byproducts, many smokers can develop sleep apnea or sleep apnea like symptoms. In fact, the lauded Mayo Clinic research hospital in the U.S. has determined that smokers are three times more likely to experience sleep apnea or sleep apnea like symptoms.

If you are a smoker you have probably heard the thousand and one reasons to quit smoking and sleeping is one of them. Your body cannot function properly if it does not get the rejuvenation of a good night’s sleep. Smoking cigarettes disturbs an already weakened body’s ability to rest and regenerate. If you want to sleep better and stay healthy, then put that last cigarette out for good!