It’s not just stressing about work the next day or sleepless nights from the intense summer heat that makes you turn over repeatedly in bed. Your health, both physically and mentally, also plays a major role in your sleep pattern. When you get one bad night's sleep the next day is challenging but several in a row is a disaster, impacting your daily routines! Stimulants like caffeine before bed and turning your screens off to relax your mind are obvious recommendations. But what about nicotine - is this a cause of a sleepless night? The simple answer is yes.
While the other harmful substances in cigarettes such as tobacco impact your short and long term health, and in the worst-case scenario cause cancer, nicotine as a stimulant causes a different dilemma. Used in smoking and vaping, it's always advised by medical experts to avoid nicotine if possible because of its addictive nature. However, giving up nicotine suddenly can cause a shock to the system. For that reason, does vaping make you tired solely because of nicotine or is it a small part of a bigger picture?
Why Vaping With Nicotine Keeps You Awake
Because nicotine is an addictive stimulant, it’s a perplexing substance that can make you feel relaxed when you take it and anxious without it in equal measure. That’s why it’s so difficult to give up smoking and the reason many have turned to e-cigarettes as a cessation tool, reducing the nicotine gradually and selecting the strength that suits. Rather than going cold turkey and cutting out cigarettes completely, which can often cause a relapse for many, vaping takes the addictive nature of smoking (nicotine) and removes all the other dangerous chemicals when burned (reportedly over 7000) that cause so many health issues. When you start vaping, your body will react in a different way depending on how much nicotine you inhale daily and your habits before as a smoker. Even with a small amount of nicotine in your system, the negative side effects can include:
·Increase in heart rate
·Higher dependency, leading to stress and anxiety without vaping
·Nervous disposition without nicotine, which can impact levels of sleep
·Impact on mental health, changing mood levels
·Nicotine on the direct application in humans causes irritation and burning sensation in the mouth and throat, increased salivation, nausea, abdominal pain, vomiting and diarrhoea
Because vaping delivers nicotine faster into the body than smoking and is available at higher strengths (nic salts a primary example), the higher level of nicotine although considered generally harmless can cause the side effects listed above, whether the vaper inhales a small amount of nicotine or more frequently at a higher strength. Thus making it very difficult to fall asleep. So although nicotine is sometimes linked with improving anxiety and releasing positive effects on the dopamine system which creates a sense of reward, that level of addiction is hard to stop.
Even if vaping with nicotine is seen as a positive alternative to smoking because it reduces the risk of cancer and can help improve short term benefits such as your energy levels or breathing compared to smoking, when you’re addicted to something, whether that’s coffee, or alcohol, it’s hard to turn your mind and body away from consuming that substance. Therefore, at night when you need to unwind and switch off mentally, it’s a near-impossible task when you’re used to inhaling nicotine. The human body familiarises itself with patterns and habits which are challenging to break. This is when Sleep Apnoea kicks in.
What’s Sleep Apnoea and How is it Linked to Vaping?
Sleep Apnoea (or Apnea) is the difficulty one has breathing when sleeping, stopping and starting when the passageways are blocked. You may:
·Wake up frequently
·Choke, snort or gasp for breath
This can lead to increased tiredness throughout the next day and generally impact daily life. It can happen to any person and can be dangerous if not treated, although the symptoms are milder for some than others. Medical resources and websites like the NHS suggest many reasons this may happen, including consuming alcohol before sleep, taking sleep pills and smoking cigarettes. Nicotine is another likely a cause of Sleep Apnoea as studies show the stimulant may lead to upper airway inflammation and relax the muscular airways of the neural reflexes. While studies have been done extensively on people struggling to sleep due to smoking, there are still many years of research required before we will know the impact of nicotine from vaping on sleep patterns. As nicotine stimulates the brain, it can often cover up our exhaustion so we’re unaware of how tired we feel.
How to Get a Better Night's Sleep
Despite its obvious nature, it's surprising how common the mistake is to drink caffeine, eat sugary foods or stare at screens before winding down for bed. Likewise, with nicotine, you should be avoiding it at all times throughout the day but often the case with vapers, they’re former smokers who have been addicted for quite some time. Therefore, it’s not easy to shake the habit and takes a great deal of willpower. If you’re used to smoking or vaping before bed, chances are your sleep pattern is disturbed and not consistent throughout the night.
Is There a Solution for Vapers?
If you need to vape with nicotine, it’s advised if possible to use a lower amount during the day and try vape nicotine-free for habit sake two to three hours at least before going to sleep to reduce tiredness. That way, your body and mind will begin to relax instead of wide awake, preparing you for a good night sleep and better energy levels the following day.
Whether it’s 0% nicotine-free e-liquids or even easy prefilled cartridges, which allow you to switch off even more by not needing to focus on topping up your vape tank, these alternatives may help you get a better night sleep compared to a high nicotine vape delivered through nic salts, or even worse a cigarette packed with nicotine, sugar and thousands of carcinogens that are combustible.