12 Ways to Relieve Insomnia When You Quit Smoking

When Smoking Cessation Make it Hard to Sleep

Happy woman laying on bed
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Sleep disturbances are a common side effect of nicotine withdrawal. Some ex-smokers might sleep more than usual through this phase of smoking cessation.  Our bodies are reacting to the loss of numerous doses of nicotine and other chemicals throughout the day.  It can leave us feeling foggy and lethargic.

On the opposite end of the spectrum are those who have difficulty getting any sleep at all. Insomnia is also a common symptom of nicotine withdrawal.

If you find yourself suffering from insomnia during the first few weeks after you quit smoking, try a few of these natural remedies to ease your discomforts.

1) Cut out the caffeine.

Caffeine is a stimulant. Most people know this, but here's a fact that is less widely known: caffeine in the body of a smoker is metabolized (digested) at about twice the rate as that of a nonsmoker. The result is a high tolerance to caffeine.

When you quit smoking, the amount of coffee or colas you're used to drinking might now make you jittery and anxious. Cut back on, or cut out caffeine completely for awhile, especially if you’re having trouble sleeping through the night.

Chances are good that once you're through the withdrawal process, you'll be able to drink coffee again, though maybe not as much as you did as a smoker.

2) Take a warm bath.

Light a few candles, use some scented bath salts, and let the stress of the day go.

A warm bath is a surefire way to relax your body and mind in preparation for sleep. 

3) Schedule a massage.

Enlist your spouse or ​another willing pair of hands to help work the stress out of your muscles. If you can get a full body massage, great, but even 10 or 15 minutes spent on your neck, shoulders, face and scalp can really work wonders to relax you to the point of being ready to sleep.

4) Have a cup of herbal tea.

There are a variety of teas on the market today blended specifically to help soothe and promote sleep. Take a look at the tea section in the supermarket, or visit your local health food store and ask for suggestions. About.com Expert Lindsey Goodwin has some great suggestions for homemade herbal teas.

5) Listen to some soothing music.

Soft, mellow music can help to relax you enough to drift off to sleep. You may want to try listening to a recording of waves hitting the beach - soft sounds can be a very good sleep aid. Make sure you have a player that will turn itself off - you don’t want to have to get up and do it yourself - defeats the purpose!

6) Turn off the electronics.

Most of us have multiple electronic devices that follow us around all day long.  Whether it's a smart phone, tablet or laptop, park it at the door of your bedroom, and leave the TV off too.  Instead, read a book (an actual book, not one on your phone!) for a bit to help you get drowsy.

7) Do drink a glass of warm milk.

Spice it up with a little honey and cardamom or nutmeg.

Warm milk helps us sleep is due to the fact that it is a food rich in the amino acid L-tryptophan. L-tryptophan helps the body produce neurotransmitters such as serotonin Seratonin is a chemical nerve messenger that tells our bodies to shut down and sleep at night.  

More of the L-tryptophan in milk gets delivered to your brain when you eat a carbohydrate along with it. No wonder milk and cookies have long been a favorite bedtime snack.

Other foods containing the amino acid L-tryptophan:
dairy products…milk, cheese, yogurt

8) Don’t drink alcohol.

Alcohol disrupts sleep. A few drinks may make it easier to fall asleep initially, alcohol in the system will often cause us to wake up just a few hours into the sleep cycle. Sleep is then often intermittent for the remainder of the night.

9) Get some exercise.

Even a short 15 minute walk will help, but if you can't sleep, try getting out for a nice long walk a few hours before bed. Timing is important with this one.  Don't exercise just before bed as it revs you up before it slows you down. 

10) Meditate.

Meditation helps start your day on the right foot, and end it nicely, too. As a sleep aid, try meditation in bed, laying quietly, eyes closed. Start by focusing on the muscles in your body, consciously relaxing them, section by section.

Next, move on to the thoughts in your mind.  Acknowledge each one as it comes and then let it go. Let your mind drift and flow, releasing stress and worry as it goes.

Adding meditation to your morning routine ( in an upright position!)  will reward you with improved control and calmness throughout your day, as well.

11) No naps!

While it may feel good to finally get some shut eye, if it's during the day, don't do it. Power naps are not your friend if you're suffering from insomnia.  You'll pay for it when it's time for bed.

12) Rise and shine a little earlier.

Another useful technique to help you shift your internal clock is to start your day a little earlier.  And, use some of the time to meditate, too - a win, win.


Remember, the physical withdrawal phase of smoking cessation is a temporary condition. Your sleep patterns will return to normal soon, providing you didn’t have insomnia before you quit smoking. If symptoms persist beyond the first month or so, schedule a visit with your doctor.

Be patient! Better days are coming.

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