The neurotoxin nicotine – why smoking disrupts sleep

Smokers sleep worse - but why? Cigarette smoke and the nicotine it contains are harmful to health and have a negative impact on our sleep. Here you can find out how nicotine affects the body and why smoking not only prevents a healthy everyday life but also a restful sleep.

Table of Contents

  1. Health risk of smoking
  2. The neurotoxin nicotine
  3. How does nicotine work?
  4. This is how nicotine and smoking damage sleep
  5. Overview: The effect of nicotine on sleep
  6. Smoke-free for better sleep

1. Health risk smoking

Almost a quarter of Germans regularly smoke cigarettes, even though smoking is considered one of the biggest avoidable health risks for humans and causes serious long-term damage to both the body and the psyche. The main active ingredient nicotine in particular influences the organism in a variety of harmful ways and not only leads to strong dependence, but also prevents restful sleep and promotes the development of sleep disorders.

2. The neurotoxin nicotine

smartsleep Schlafmagazin: Struktur des Nervengifts Nikotin

Nicotine is a naturally occurring chemical compound and, like alcohol or caffeine, is one of the so-called neurotoxins. It is naturally found particularly in the leaves of the tobacco plant and is therefore one of the main active ingredients in all tobacco products and cigarettes. A standard cigarette contains up to 13 mg of nicotine, of which between 1 and 2 mg are absorbed directly into the body through smoking. Due to its stimulating effect on the human organism and various areas of the nervous system, nicotine can affect health in many ways and can also significantly disrupt our sleep.

3. How does nicotine work?

After inhaling, nicotine reaches the brain within a few seconds and activates the so-called reward system, which increases the production of the “happiness hormone” dopamine. This triggers feelings of relaxation and well-being, which are largely responsible for the dangerous addictive potential of the active ingredient. Although nicotine works quickly, it is broken down just as quickly and then has to be administered again in order to maintain the effect.

Die Wirkung und Wirkdauer von Nikotin

Nicotine is not called “nerve poison” without reason! Nicotine primarily triggers stress in the body and stimulates the release of the stress hormones norepinephrine, adrenaline or vasopressin. This puts our body on alert, causing heart rate and blood pressure to increase, blood vessels to constrict and the nervous system to activate. Through repeated nicotine consumption, our body is repeatedly put into a state of stress, which in the long term particularly affects our nerve function and the cardiovascular system. And that's not all, because nicotine also interferes with fat metabolism and the regulation of blood sugar levels, damages the gastrointestinal system and promotes the activation of carcinogenic substances.

4. This is how nicotine and smoking damage sleep

Smokers find it harder to fall asleep, sleep for shorter periods of time and are less restful - this has been proven by scientific studies and surveys. According to studies, regular cigarette consumption makes it more difficult to fall asleep, reduces the quality of sleep and the feeling of rest the next morning and overall results in significantly shorter sleep. The study of the brain activity of smoking test subjects showed that they spent comparatively less time in deep sleep, but longer time in a lighter sleep state than non-smoking test subjects.

The reason certainly lies in the interaction of the different active ingredients that are absorbed by the body when smoking. The main active ingredient, nicotine, in particular, stimulates the nerves and impairs important body functions such as metabolism, hormone production or the cardiovascular system. In this way, the natural sleep rhythm is disrupted and our body is prevented from resting properly and falling asleep. In addition, the shortened deep sleep ensures that the body and brain cannot regenerate sufficiently during the night. Last but not least, lung function and respiratory tract also suffer from the harmful smoke, preventing free breathing during sleep. Statistically speaking, snoring smokers also snore more frequently, which also has a negative impact on sleep.

smartsleep Schlafmagazin: Schlecht schlafen und wach liegen durch Nikotin und Rauchen

5. Overview: The effect of nicotine on sleep

  • Difficulty falling asleep: Nicotine activates the nervous system and puts the body under stress, which prevents relaxation in the evening and keeps those affected awake longer.
  • Short sleep duration / lack of sleep: Nicotine disrupts the natural sleep-wake rhythm and shortens the nightly sleep duration
  • Bad sleep / Reduced sheep quality: The neurotoxin seems to have a negative effect on the change between sleep phases, especially at the beginning of the night, and to reduce the overall proportion of deep sleep, which reduces the quality of sleep and makes sleep less restful.

6. Smoke-free for better sleep

Smoking affects our health and does additional damage by significantly affecting sleep. Sleep disorders and insomnia ensure that we suffer from fatigue, poor performance and stress on the day. This in turn is harmful to your health and makes it even more difficult to sleep - which increases the desire for the relaxing effects of nicotine. A vicious circle that we should prevent at all costs. So that we can not only sleep well but also live a long and healthy life, we should avoid smoking in any form or at least try to reduce nicotine consumption to a minimum.

7. Conclusion

  • Smoking is one of the biggest health risks and not only reduces the quality of life, but also promotes sleep disorders and insomnia, which is further damaging to health.
  • Nicotine is a neurotoxin that, as the main active ingredient in tobacco products, has a particularly damaging effect on nerve function and the cardiovascular system and has a high potential for addiction.
  • Nicotine leads to problems falling asleep, shortens the duration of sleep and makes sleep less restful.

 Best regards and see you soon!

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