Smoking May Wreak Havoc on Sleep

Restless Sleep More Common Among Cigarette Smokers Than Nonsmokers

Medically Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD on February 04, 2008

Feb. 4, 2008 -- The effects of smoking may include worse sleep due to overnight nicotine withdrawal.

So say scientists from Johns Hopkins University. They studied 40 smokers who reported smoking at least 20 cigarettes per day and claimed to have no health problems.

At home, the smokers spent a night hooked up to an EEG (electroencephalogram) machine that recorded electrical activity in their brain during sleep. For comparison, 40 nonsmokers did the same thing.

Participants were also asked about whether they got restful sleep or didn't feel rested during the day.

Restless sleep was more common among smokers than among nonsmokers; 22.5% of smokers reported restless sleep compared with 5% of nonsmokers. Also, sleep EEGs had different patterns for smokers and nonsmokers.

Nicotine may play a role, note Lin Zhang, MD, PhD, and colleagues.

Zhang's team explains that nicotine, a stimulant, may make it harder to fall asleep. But as nicotine wears off during the night, nicotine withdrawal may kick in, hindering sleep.

The findings appear in the February edition of Chest.

(If you're a smoker or former smoker, how is your sleep? Has anything changed since you quit? Tell us about it on WebMD's Smoking Cessation Support Group message board.)

Show Sources


Zhang, L. Chest, February 2008; vol 133: pp 427-432.

News release, American College of Chest Physicians.

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