People who smoke at night may need mental health support

Credit: CC0 Public Domain

In recent research published in Behavioral Sleep Medicine, researchers suggest that waking in the night is more likely the result of stress than nicotine addiction.

They suggest that these smokers may need mental health support.

The study is from Penn State and was conducted by Steven Branstetter.

Many cigarette smokers wake in the night, smoke, and then return to sleep.

Prior research has linked this behavior to smoking a higher number of cigarettes each day and to a higher likelihood of failing when trying to quit smoking.

In this study, the team found that a person’s levels of stress and psychological distress were more important than nicotine dependence for understanding who would wake at night and smoke.

Previous assumptions that mid-sleep smoking was an indicator of severe nicotine addiction may not be correct.

This research found that people are waking and smoking, not waking to smoke as the research literature has often characterized the phenomenon.

The authors explained that, though many people think of addiction as the sole reason that people smoke, all people who smoke do so for a variety of reasons.

Prior research has shown that adolescent smokers frequently incorporate smoking as an important part of their social relationships. To help adolescents quit, interventions teach them to negotiate their social relationships without smoking.

For many of the people who are waking in the night and smoking, the ritual of smoking may help them self-soothe and/or deal with stress.

These smokers are more likely to fail when trying to quit. The authors believe that helping mid-sleep smokers address their stress or psychological distress might be necessary to help them quit.

The team says that smoking behavior is driven by more than nicotine addiction. It’s not just the drug or substance.

There are secondary reasons for smoking, and treatment for people needs to address those secondary reasons in order for most people to quit successfully.

In their future work, researchers want to establish exactly what factors are driving waking and smoking so that treatments can be developed to help these smokers quit.

If you care about smoking, please read studies that this stuff in your mouth may increase lung cancer risk, even if you don’t smoke, and findings of why do smoke detector alarms keep going off even when there’s no smoke.

For more information about wellness, please see recent studies about why smokers have a lower risk of COVID-19, and results showing that scientists find the cause of lung cancer in never smokers.

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