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Why Am I Exhausted Since I Quit Smoking?

author image Kimberly Wilson
Kimberly Wilson has been a freelancer since 2009. She also works as a marketing and sales professional. Wilson specializes in mental heath and wellness articles for various websites. She has a Bachelor of Arts in psychology from Syracuse University.
Why Am I Exhausted Since I Quit Smoking?
Feelings of exhaustion after quitting cigarettes don't last long. Photo Credit Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images

The cigarette is an effective and amazingly efficient method of delivering nicotine to the brain. According to The National Institute on Drug Abuse, a smoker receives 1 to 2 mg. of nicotine for every cigarette smoked. The fast delivery to the brain makes nicotine a very addictive substance. Withdrawal symptoms include difficulty sleeping and tiredness. Feeling exhausted is a normal, transient symptom when you quit smoking.

How Does Nicotine Work?

Addiction happens in the brain, and nicotine effectively alters the pleasure circuitry in your brain. Like other addictive substances, nicotine increases the neurotransmitter dopamine. Dopamine is believed to cause pleasurable feelings. Nicotine levels in the brain peak only 10 seconds after inhalation, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse. This fast activation of pleasure in the brain cements the association of smoking and feeling good. Nicotine effects wear off as fast as it acts, leaving the smoker wanting more.

Symptoms of Nicotine Use

In addition to boosting mood, nicotine has a number of other effects. It is an appetite suppressant and elevates blood sugar. Your heart rate will increase by 10 to 20 beats per minute and blood pressure will increase by 5 to 10 mmHg. Nicotine increases alertness and memory, making tasks that depend on these traits easier for the smoker.

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Withdrawal Symptoms

Nicotine withdrawal symptoms can be severe, however, most symptoms peak in two to three days. Trouble sleeping and bad dreams are withdrawal symptoms that increase daytime tiredness. Along with cravings, you may feel irritable, anxious, impatient and depressed. Some people also get headaches from withdrawal.

Don't Give Up

Ways to relieve symptoms of nicotine withdrawal such as exhaustion are available. Nicotine replacement comes in the form of gum, inhalers, nasal spray or skin patches. These methods can help with initial symptoms and cravings; once you feel relief, you can gradually decrease the dose. Prescription medications also may make quitting easier. Ask your doctor about bupropion or varenicline. Keep in mind that the tiredness from quitting smoking is temporary and that around 38 million people have beat nicotine addiction, according to MedlinePlus, an online resource of the National Institutes of Health.

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