This week’s Question of the Week comes from Shell, who asked:
Just wondering is it normal to be so tired once I quit smoking?
Tiredness and fatigue is a common withdrawal symptom in the early stages of smoking cessation and can have several causes.
Firstly, overcoming regular cravings for cigarettes can be quite energy-depleting. The result of the constant struggle to avoid temptation can leave you feeling depleted physically, mentally emotionally.
The good news is that the longer you abstain from tobacco, the less intense and less frequent these cravings become and consequently, the less energy is needed to overcome them.
Secondly, the chemicals in cigarette smoke increase the smoker’s metabolism to an abnormally high level. When you stop smoking, your body has to adjust its metabolic rate back to normal. It usually takes one or two weeks to normalize, which can leave you feeling tired during the interim.
Thirdly, smokers tend to have be lighter sleepers than non-smokers. Stopping smoking can screw up the body’s natural sleeping pattern, resulting in insomnia and waking in the night. But as your body adjusts its sleeping patterns ex-smokers quickly begin to benefit from the deeper, more restorative sleep that non-smokers benefit from all the time.
Finally, I should take a moment to talk about medication.
If you are using Zyban to help you to stop smoking, this can increase the chances of temporary insomnia. Similarly, common side effects of Champix are difficulty sleeping and abnormal dreams. In addition many ex-smokers that have used the 24-hour nicotine patch have reported wakefulness and/or vivid dreams. Of course, you should report any side effects from any medications you are using to your doctor.
The important thing to remember is that fatigue and tiredness, along with all withdrawal symptoms are usually short-lived. Most won’t last longer than one month and, chances are, that you will begin to feel an increase in your energy levels within just a couple of weeks!
In the meantime, you can take practical steps to reduce the tiredness you are experiencing by:
- Ensuring you get regular exercise (even if it’s just walking to the shop)
- Eating a healthy, balanced diet
- Not staying up too late
- Taking regular short naps (if required)
- Avoiding coffee and other caffeine products
As time goes by and your body adjusts to your new life as a non-smoker, you WILL feel less tired and benefit from much higher levels of energy than you had as a smoker.