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Smokers Have Disturbed Sleep Compared to Non-Smokers

Nicotine stimulation and withdrawal could explain sleep alterations early and late in the sleep period

TUESDAY, Feb. 5 (HealthDay News) -- Despite having similar sleep architecture, smokers showed disturbances in sleep electroencephalogram (EEG), which could be due to both nicotine stimulation and withdrawal, according to research published in the February issue of the journal Chest.

Lin Zhang, M.D., Ph.D., of Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, and colleagues analyzed data from sleep architecture assessment and spectral analysis of EEG for 40 pairs of smokers and non-smokers matched for gender, race, age, body mass index, neck circumference and apnea-hypopnea index. Subjects underwent home-based polysomnography.

The groups showed similar conventional sleep stages, but smokers had higher percentage of α-power than non-smokers (15.6 percent versus 12.5 percent) and lower percentage of δ-power (59.7 percent versus 62.6 percent). The differences in the EEG power spectrum between the groups were most pronounced early in the sleep period. Smokers also reported less restful sleep, which was partly explained by differences in EEG spectral power.

"It is well established that blood nicotine levels are highest at bedtime in habitual smokers. Thus, differences in sleep architecture between smokers and non-smokers would be greatest in the early part of the sleep period. In fact, the shift in the EEG power spectrum toward higher frequencies in smokers lends support to the notion that the stimulant effects of nicotine may have an essential role, at least initially, in altering sleep. Given that the half-life of nicotine is approximately two hours, minor withdrawal from nicotine throughout the night could further impact sleep architecture in the latter part of the sleep period," the authors write.

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