Association between cigarette smoking and quality of sleep

in Sleep Research and Insights


Fellow research review of: “Sleep quality in cigarette smokers and nonsmokers,”research conducted by Yanhui Liao, Liqin Xie, Xiaogang Chen, Brian C. Kelly, Chang Q, Chen Pan, Mei Yang, Wei Hao, Tieqiao Liu and Jinsong Tang.



  • Sample method was used to recruit 27,300 participants in a survey in Hunan, China. About 26 282 individuals participated in the survey to reveal the relationship between quality of sleep in cigarette smokers and nonsmokers. One of the criteria for selecting participants is that they must be above 12 years of age. The survey took about a month to complete, running from September to October. The characteristics of smokers considered were the number of cigarettes each day, how long they have been smoking, the number of times they have tried to quit, and how much they crave smoking. The category of smokers comprises individuals who have smoked more than 100 sticks in their life. These people also must have had smoke in the last 28 days to meet the criteria for the category of cigarette smokers. The aim of the study was to determine if there was a significant difference in sleep quality between individuals who smoked and those who did not.

  • Cigarettes are among the most common recreational drugs in the world. Across every continent and nation of the world, smoking cigarette is prevalent. Typically, smoking starts in the teenage years. Some may quit in their middle ages due to health complications or a decision for lifestyle modification. Others smoke until they are well advanced in age. The major components of cigarettes are nicotine, tar, and carbon monoxide, among several thousand compounds. Nicotine is a potent chemical usually indicated for addiction to smoking. A few seconds after inhaling cigarette smoke, it causes the brain to release dopamine, which causes the body to feel good. The individual may get hooked to that feeling of goodness. It alters the brain chemicals, and this may affect sleep quality. These compounds in cigarettes can be toxic, thus altering the circadian rhythm. 

  • The human body needs rest and sleep. However, sleep is a natural phenomenon that you can not escape. If, for any reason, you are getting less sleep than normal, then the whole system suffers. myAir monitors the sleep and wellness of individuals based on their activities. This research is particularly useful for individuals who smoke cigarettes. These findings offer a scientific standard for the education and recommendation for lifestyle changes for clients. We aim to ensure individuals who use the app live a satisfactory life. Adequate sleep is key in living well and maintaining a balance between the circulating hormones in the body. Nicotine is a stimulant; hence it can make one more awake. Smoking more during bedtime may disturb sleep latency and sleep patterns. Such individuals may wake up at frequent intervals before dawn. Consequently, those trying to quit may experience withdrawal symptoms, the chief of which is the inability to fall into a deep sleep. The knowledge of the interaction between the components of cigarettes and sleep pattern helps us serve our clients better.


Out of the initial 27,300 sample population, only 26 282 individuals responded to the questionnaires. A greater percentage of the smoking population were males. The population of smokers experienced worse sleep quality (PSQI > 5) than nonsmokers. Cigarette smoking is associated with subjective sleep quality, sleep duration, sleep latency, sleep efficiency, and daytime dysfunction.  

After controlling factors like age, BMI, gender, marital status, employment, rural and urban residency, the analysis showed that poor sleep quality was inversely proportional with cigarettes per day and positively associated with years of smoking, quit attempts, and smoking craving. On the other hand, logistic regression revealed that the odds of sleep disturbances were higher with attempts to quit and smoking cravings. 


In cold regions, likewise temperate regions, cigarette smoking is common. The population of smokers is on the rise Despite the announcement that “smokers are liable to die young.” Cigarettes contain toxic and carcinogenic-cancer-causing compounds. The tobacco plant is the main ingredient in producing cigarettes. The leaves of the tobacco plant are dried and processed industrially to produce cigarettes. Nicotine, the active substance in the tobacco plant, has significant effects on the brain. 

The effects of cigarette smoking depend on various factors like frequency, urge, and dependency. However, there is no moderation to smoking cigarettes. As little as one stick per day can predispose a person to several health hazards. Smoking cigarette is one of the avoidable ways in which an individual’s health deteriorates. 

myAir focuses on promoting wellness in clients. Therefore, a comprehensive understanding of cigarette smoking history helps us serve you better. We can custom chocolate bars to meet your nutritional requirements. There are times we can make suggestions for detoxification to reduce the toxic and carcinogenic compounds in our bodies. Moreso, when the app detects a disturbance in sleeping patterns, we can generate suggestions that help you live a healthy and fulfilling life. 

It is no news that some people require a stick or two to go through the day. It helps them deal with anxiety and provides a sense of calm. However, they do not understand the implication of smoking cigarettes on their sleep pattern. myAir wellness company has qualified personnel who can suggest something else for anxiety that improves sleep patterns. Nicotine in the cigars can upset the circadian rhythm, especially if a person is trying to quit and relapses. 

We understand the relationship between cigarette smoking and sleep pattern, thanks to the evidence generated by the study conducted. We are committed to using this information for the benefit of our clients. Adequate sleep is a priority in maintaining health.


Cigarette smoking has been linked to various physical and mental illnesses. It contains chemicals that are poisonous to humans leading to cancers and heart disease. It also contains nicotine, an addictive compound that causes a major disruption to sleep quality. Regular smoking can significantly impair the quality and pattern of sleep in an individual. Prolonged exposure to cigarette smokes worsens sleep quality. It causes a disruption in the biological clock. Most times, the effects of poor sleep quality progress to include anxiety that is only relieved by more smoking and other mood disorders.

Cigarette smoking can cause inflammation of the tissues of the nose and throat. This inflammatory response is due to the irritation caused by toxic and carcinogenic compounds in the smoke. Inflammation is often accompanied by swelling, and this may restrict airflow. There is also a possibility of a collapse of muscles located behind the throat. This is common during sleep and causes a temporary inability to breathe properly in smokers. This is one of the ways that smoking affects sleep quality.

Another way smoking affects sleep quality is that nicotine causes smokers to wake up more often during the night. Smokers usually take a longer time to fall asleep, and when they do, they remain in the light sleep stage for a longer period. Staying in the light sleep stage partly accounts for easy wakefulness during the night. Furthermore, more smokers usually experience restless sleep than nonsmokers do. In addition, sleep may be interrupted by a craving for smoke. Due to the high potency of nicotine, the body craves more when the circulating amount is low.

Cigarette smokers have a shorter sleep frequency and require a longer time to fall into a deep sleep. Cigarette smoking can predispose individuals to insomnia. The factors that cause insomnia may span across physical, chemical, mental, or medical conditions. However, continuous intake of nicotine alters the chemical composition of the brain. Consequently, smokers have trouble falling asleep because nicotine stimulates their alertness center. Unfortunately, the withdrawal symptoms set in by the morning. This makes smokers restless and irritated than nonsmokers in the morning. 


The Circadian rhythm is a 24-hour cycle that is the body’s internal clock system. It is important for maintaining balance in the body. It influences many processes, such as the release of hormones. The circadian rhythm is consistent but can be thrown off balance by several factors. For example, traveling to a location with a different time zone, say 18hours apart. The body’s internal clock takes time to reset and adjust to the day and night of the new location. There are various examples of circadian rhythms in the human body. One important of such is the sleep-wake circadian cycle. This cycle regulates how much sleep we get at night and when we wake up. In non-smokers, habits form the background for the development of this internal clock. The usual sleeping and waking pattern define the sleep-wake rhythm of an individual. 

As earlier stated, cigarettes contain nicotine, which can stimulate wakefulness. Most smokers always smoke one or two before bedtime to help them relax and fall asleep. They may feel the relaxing effect of the cigarette. However, it interacts with the brain by inhibiting the ability to fall asleep. Many smokers are addicted because of this nicotinic interaction with the brain. Certain neurotransmitters are released in the evening to relax the body and promote sleep. At dawn, stress hormone levels rise, which contribute to wakefulness. However, nicotine alters the signal from the neurotransmitters distorting the sleep-wake cycle. In addition, cigarette smokers require a longer time to fall into a deep sleep. This period of deep sleep is when the body restores and regenerates. Therefore, cigarette smokers spend more time during light sleep than nonsmokers do.

Smoking cigarette throws the sleep-wake rhythm into disharmony. Smoking affects sleep latency, and they take more time to fall asleep. Nevertheless, they spend little time sleeping compared to nonsmokers. Cigarette smokers have a shorter sleep frequency. The effect is that they do not wake up well-rested in the morning. Adequate sleep is important because it makes one revitalized and energized for the new day. However, this cannot be said for cigarette smokers. They are incapable of getting the adequate sleep that the body needs because of cigarette smoke. When the nicotine leaves their system, their body automatically carves for more. This may disrupt the length of sleep because they may wake up for a stick before going back to bed. Due to the effects of nicotine on the sleep-wake cycle, smokers tend to experience daytime drowsiness. 


Several studies have shown the debilitating effects of cigarette smoking on the quality, pattern, frequency, and sleep duration. Cigarette smoke contains compounds that can cross the blood-brain barrier, thus influencing the activities of the brain. The brain is responsible for voluntary and involuntary activities. Sleep pattern is influenced by the circadian rhythm, which is controlled by the brain. For cigarette smokers, they are bound not to enjoy adequate rest and sleep. Nicotine interacts with the brain to increase sleep latency, decreased sleep efficiency, sleep fragmentation, and increased daytime sleepiness. 

The only solution to enjoy sleep and adequate rest is to quit smoking. Smoking poses several health challenges to smokers and those in the immediate environment. There is a possibility that a smoker could fall asleep with a cigarette lit, and this could result in a fire outbreak. Smokers with children living in the same house expose them to several health hazards. These children may become predisposed to asthma, coughing, wheezing, and ear infections. Apart from children, any individual exposed to cigarette smoke is predisposed to one form of illness or the other. All these conditions may impair sleeping patterns in children and affect their development. In severe cases, it may cause the death of these children.

Individuals who smoke tobacco spend too much time in the stage of light sleep. Thus, they experience less time sleeping deep, and thus their bodies do not rest well. They feel tired and irritated when they wake in the morning, unlike non-smokers who wake up refreshed. 

Finally, smoking cigarette, irrespective of age, marital status, employment status, or residential area, has progressive effects on the quality of sleep. However, the frequency of consuming nicotine may influence nighttime sleep quality. The number of years a person has been smoking and the extent of cigarette craving may also affect how the sleep-wake cycle is affected by nicotine. Night-time cigarette cravings may cause a relapse for those trying to quit. Having to wake up several times in the night can be quite frustrating. Quitting smoking after several years is not a day’s journey. It requires commitment, focus, and support from friends and family. There may be a relapse after a few successful weeks of abstaining, but this is very normal. If you want to have the best sleep quality throughout life, the best choice is never to smoke. For individuals who are trying to quit but have trouble sleeping, they could try sleep therapy. 

Reference and Footnotes:

Original publication: Sleep quality in cigarette smokers and nonsmokers: findings from the general population in central China

By Yanhui Liao, Liqin Xie, Xiaogang Chen, Brian C. Kelly, Chang Qi, Chen Pan, Mei Yang, Wei Hao, Tieqiao Liu, and Jinsong Tang

Published in 2019 in China by BMC Public Health

Footnote: No potential conflict of interest relevant to this article was reported.


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