How to treat insomnia while quitting smoking


If you’re considering quitting smoking or vaping, are currently giving up, or you’ve already quit, then well done!

We all know of the harmful effects that cigarettes and e-cigarettes, tobacco and nicotine can have on our bodies1, so all three are excellent steps towards better overall health.

Unfortunately, during the quitting process, you may find that you have trouble getting enough quality sleep. Smoking is chemically addictive, and this has been linked to sleep difficulties and insomnia, which may make it more of a challenge to quit.2

No matter what stage you’re at, everyone needs sufficient sleep to awaken your best.

Here is some more information to help you manage the symptoms of insomnia when quitting smoking, so you can say goodbye to the cigarettes and get enough quality sleep too.

How is sleep affected by smoking?

When you quit smoking, your body experiences nicotine withdrawal, which is known to cause disturbances in quality sleep.3

Everyone is unique, so you may experience different symptoms. However the most common include:

  •       a consistently poor quality sleep
  •       waking up briefly, many times during the night
  •       difficulty falling asleep
  •       remaining awake for long periods
  •       feeling tired and lethargic the following day

When these are ongoing, it can fragment your sleep and cause insomnia.3

If you find yourself suffering from insomnia while trying to quit smoking, give the following remedies a try to ease your discomfort and reclaim that precious slumber.

Avoid napping

While this may seem counterproductive, try not to nap during the day. Naps only last a short time here and there, and can throw your regular sleeping patterns out when you try to get a proper sleep at night.

Allow yourself to unwind

If you’re stressed, anxious or craving a cigarette, your mind is not relaxed enough to get in the right headspace for quality sleep.

Try some simple deep breathing exercises before you go to bed to help ease your thoughts. Sit in your room in the dark, focus on your breath and breathe in for five seconds, hold for five seconds and then out for five seconds. Repeat this over and over again until you find your mind begins to settle.

This may help you relax and settle in for a good night’s sleep ahead.

Have a massage

Another way to relax is by getting a massage before bed.

If you have a willing partner, there is nothing quite like a massage to help work out the stress, feel more comfortable and drift off.

Try some different foods and drink

Have you heard that having a warm cup of milk before bed helps you sleep?

Warm milk contains the amino acid L-tryptophan, a precursor to the sleep hormone melatonin, which helps your body produce melatonin that signals your body to wind down and sleep at night.5

Other foods containing the amino acid L-tryptophan include chicken, turkey, fish, and shellfish, eggs, tofu and sunflower seeds – if you want to give any of those a try instead.

Speak to your Doctor

If some of the above tips aren’t helping you treat your insomnia as you quit smoking, it may be best to speak to your healthcare professional or GP. They may prescribe you medication or refer you to a psychologist for cognitive behaviour therapy (or CBT-i) which is an effective treatment practice for insomnia.

Experiencing insomnia when quitting smoking

Just remember that giving up cigarettes is a great decision for your health and well-being.

Sleep disturbances and insomnia can be a challenge to deal with6 - but don’t give up! You’ve come so far and in the end, it will be worth it.

In fact, the 14 day sleep challenge could be the perfect way to keep focused and on track during your journey.


Take the 14 Day Sleep Challenge

Do you want to wake up feeling more refreshed? Give our 14 Day Sleep Challenge a go.

You can sign up for the 14 Day Sleep Challenge here, where you will receive regular emails with quick insights and information about how you can improve the quality of your sleep. You’ll be able to track your progress throughout the challenge and discover what you need to do to help get a better night’s sleep.

All the best!

Sleep, finally.

Sleep isn't one-size-fits-all, neither is the way you improve it. We provide you the very best tools to help you get there.


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Smoking - effects on your body. Better Health Channel, Victoria.


Effects of nicotine on sleep during consumption, withdrawal and replacement therapy. Sleep Med Rev. 2009 Oct;13(5):363-77. doi: 10.1016/j.smrv.2008.12.003. Epub 2009 Apr 2.


What is insomnia? Centre for Clinical Interventions, Government of Western Australia


Effects of L-tryptophan on sleepiness and on sleep. J Psychiatr Res. 1982-1983;17(2):107-13.


Sleep changes in smokers before, during and 3 months after nicotine withdrawal. Addict Biol. 2015 Jul;20(4):747-55. doi: 10.1111/adb.12151. Epub 2014 May 4.

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