How Drinking and Smoking Affects Sleep

Updated May 12, 2022

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Bad Habits Affect Sleep

As you may know, there are several bad habits that can cause sleep loss. Two especially bad habits are drinking too close to bedtime and smoking. This page will discuss how the use of alcohol and cigarettes causes sleep problems and some tips to improve your quality of sleep.


According to the American Sleep Association (ASA) “the thousands of toxic chemicals in cigarettes are known to cause cancer, heart disease, anxiety, and depression, as well as many other health issues.” Nicotine is the addictive substance inside cigarettes that causes sleep disturbances.

The ASA also explains that nicotine has stimulant effects that work in similar ways to caffeine and that smoking before bed is similar to drinking a cup of coffee.

When nicotine begins to leave your body, you will start to feel the need for more. When someone smokes, they become dependent on nicotine. Some people may experience withdrawal while trying to fall asleep, or while sleeping. This will cause difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep, disrupting your sleep cycle.

Over time, your addiction can cause insomnia. Another sleep disorder that you can develop is sleep apnea. The irritants in cigarettes may cause swelling in the tissue in your nose and mouth. This will cause obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) because the airways are obstructed.

Along with causing health issues, you can harm yourself if you smoke in bed. You could set fire to yourself or your bed, causing injury. Smoking can also put you at an increased risk for mental health problems.

The best thing you can do to make sure you get enough sleep is quit smoking. If quitting cold turkey does not work for you, there are alternatives like gum, patches, and therapy. Talk to your doctor to figure out what is best for you.


Some people use a nightcap or an alcoholic drink before bed to fall asleep. Alcohol consumption does have sedative effects allow healthy people to fall asleep quicker and sleep more deeply for a while, but it reduces rapid eye movement or REM sleep. It will help you fall asleep but it will reduce melatonin production which will cause problems for deep sleep later in the night and disrupt your sleep pattern for both adults and adolescents. There are negative effects of alcohol are that it can suppress breathing and can precipitate sleep apnea and also cause daytime sleepiness.

Some people who struggle with insomnia symptoms may turn to alcohol as a sleep aid, but this will cause you to develop a dependence on alcohol. Relying on alcohol to fall asleep will increase your chances of sleepwalking, sleep talking, and problems with your memory the next day. Whether you are drinking mildly or binge drinking, you will have more sleep disruption based on the amount of alcohol you drink.

If you struggle with drinking alcohol, talk to your healthcare provider to find out what can help. Move away from alcohol and switch to doctor-recommended sleep medicine. Practicing better sleep habits will help move you towards quality sleep without any sleep aids.


Drinking and smoking (especially too close to bedtime) can cause poor sleep. Smoking can cause insomnia and sleep apnea while your alcohol intake can worsen sleep quality. Talk to your doctor to take the necessary steps to quit whatever your bad habit is to improve your sleep health.

About the Author Steven Bieber

Steven Bieber HeadshotSteven is a content writer who recently broke into the mattress industry. In his free time, he enjoys watching football and listening to music.

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