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Going back to normal after quitting

Video discusses how after quitting smoking a person will eventually get back to normal. Normal does not mean going back to the normal they experienced when they were smoking but more accurately, what they were like before they ever took up smoking with effects of aging now thrown in.

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Sleep Adjustments

Sleep can get pretty disruptive the first few days. Some people will get very little sleep, waking up every hour or not sleeping at all yet not feel tired. Others can sleep 20 hours a day and be exhausted during their waking hours. Whichever way it goes, sleep will adjust itself when you quit and eventually go back to normal.

But there is a catch. You don’t know what normal is. Normal is what it was prior to being a smoker with aging thrown in. Some people have not been normal for decades.

Nicotine is a stimulant drug that once it wore off through the smoker into a physiological depressed state. To overcome the smoker would smoke again, thus stimulating him or herself. Which would soon wear off and so on and so on. All the while shooting up blood sugar and hormonal levels and crashing them later. By the end of the day the smoker could be physically exhausted from this chronic stimulant/depressant roller coaster. They had to adjust their sleep around these effects.

Without this chronic abuse, these ex-smokers may find that they can get by on less sleep after they quit smoking, sometimes knocking out hours of what they thought was needed sleep time. Others only minimize sleep by a short time period but it is very obvious when the alarm goes off they can jump out of bed full of energy and ready to go or sometimes even wake up before the alarm with new found energy. When they were smokers they were often exhausted upon waking, hating the alarm and needing cigarettes to wake up and get going.

There are a smaller number of people who need more sleep when they are ex-smokers. These are people who often smoked heavily at the tail end of their days. Their bodies were crying for sleep but they kept pumping nicotine into their system to override the bodies need. Without a constant stimulant they now have to listen to their bodies and go to bed when tired. They could take speed and get the same effects but normally realize that they wouldn’t resort to a drug for this effect, yet they can rationalize that smoking was OK for the same purpose. Well it wasn’t, it was allowing the smoker to maintain such a schedule at a cost. And the long range cost for this "benefit" could be death.

Anyway, don’t panic by the sleep amount the first few days. It is not your normal amount of sleep as an ex-smoker, it is your normal amount of sleep while in drug withdrawal. This is not a normal time or a long lasting time period. Sleep will eventually settle in to a normal pattern for you as an ex-smoker. Then aging will exert its normal adjustments. Whether it turns out to be more sleep or less, you should at least sleep sounder knowing you are no longer under the control of nicotine and no longer posing such a deadly risk to yourself by still smoking. To sleep happier because you know you are staying healthier and likely to live longer, always remember all the times you are awake to never take another puff!


Medication adjustments

Often when people quit smoking they may find that medications that were adjusted for them while smoking may be altered in effectiveness once quitting. People on hypertensives, thyroid, depression, blood sugar drugs, and others may need to get re-evaluated for proper dosages once quitting.

The first few days quitting can be very difficult to determine, what is a "normal" withdrawal and what is a medication dosage issue. But once through the first few days, if a person who is on medications for medical disorders finds him or herself having physical symptoms that just seem out of the ordinary, he or she should speak to the doctor who has him or her on the medications. Point out to the doctor that you have recently quit smoking and started to notice the specific symptoms just after quitting and that they haven’t improved over time. The doctor should know the medication and potential interaction that not smoking may be adjusting for and which way the dosing may need to altered.

Treating many conditions is a partnership between you and your physician. The doctor needs your input to effectiveness of any treatment, whether it be by physical measurements or by verbally communicating how you feel while under treatment. The treatment for one condition though is your primary responsibility. The condition–nicotine addiction. It is by no means a minor medical issue, it is in fact probably the greatest controlable health threat anyone will ever face. Afterall, what other lifestyle issues carry a 50% premature mortality rate? Not to mention all the other crippling side effects that go along with long-term smoking. The treatment for this condition is your primary responsibility. To effectively treat smoking for the rest of your life simply remember to never take another puff!


Is it true that everything smells and tastes better when you quit smoking?

Is it true that everything smells and tastes better when you quit smoking? Nope. Everything smells and tastes more accurate when you quit smoking. More accurate does not necessarily mean better. When your first spring time rolls around after you quit smoking you will likely smell the aromas of flowers that smell much more intense and also likely much more pleasant than you perceived while you were still smoking. You will likely say that these aromas do smell much better.

But drive by a garbage dump or a sewage treatment plant now and see how much better it smells since you quit smoking. The odds are it will not smell better but may in fact smell much worse and more pungent than before.

The same principle applies to tastes. You may find that you start to perceive new flavors in foods. You may find that certain vegetables in a salad actually have a flavor while for the years you smoked you may have thought they were only added to give the salad a crunch. This does not automatically mean you will like the flavor.

You may find that you were spicing foods a lot more when you were a smoker too just so you could taste them. If you prepare the foods with the same amount of spicing as you did while smoking you may find that it is way over spiced for your new found taste buds.

So while not everything is going to smell and taste better–things are going to smell and taste more accurate. While not all things will smell better, one thing you should know for sure is that you are going to smell a whole lot better to the rest of the non-smoking world as long as you always remember to never take another puff!


Possible Change in Caffeine Tolerances After Cessation

It is possible that some people’s tolerances with caffeine may have fluctuated back and forth over time after quitting. But whether it has happened to one or two other people or not really is not important. All that is important is where your body has adjusted to.

When it comes to caffeine, blood sugar issues, sleep adjustments, and other such issues, it is crucial that everyone learns to recognize his or her owns body needs and requirements after adjusting back to your non-smoking physiology. Again normal is what is normal for your body, not what is normal for the majority of other people who have quit or to other people who might be exceptions to certain rules.

Your body is getting normalized and will stay normalized for you over time as long as you never put it through the abnormal process of nicotine induced pharmacological effects or the nicotine induced withdrawal syndrome by simply knowing now to never take another puff!


Anyone who feels jittery after a few days of a quit should examine his or her caffeine consumption levels. Many find that they cannot tolerate caffeine consumption at prequit levels. If you are experiencing a jittery feeling you may want to experiment with reducing quantity or strength of caffeinated drinks or products. If you are not having these difficulties it probably is not important to alter anything now.

There is an interaction between nicotine and caffeine, just as there is an interaction with nicotine and alcohol. We discuss it here often how when people drink alcohol it causes them to lose nicotine at an accelerated pace thus resulting in heavier smoking while drinking. As I said, there is a similar situation with nicotine and caffeine–similar with one huge difference. Alcohol makes you lose nicotine, thus is responsible for smoking more when drinking.

Nicotine on the other hand interferes with the body’s ability to absorb and utilize caffeine, often resulting in a person who is used to or needs to be maintaining a certain caffeine level requiring more of the products to maintain their minimum needed level. When they quit smoking and consume the same amount, that old quantity will now basically overdose them. In the case where they even increase quantity, they can experience a real overdose effect with the corresponding anxiety and sleep altering effects.

So be careful with caffeine if symptoms are going longer than a few days. It is not saying you need to get rid of it all together, just keep it in doses that don’t cause unwanted effects. Your general state will likely be calmer and a feeling of overall well being that you should be able to maintain for the rest of your life as long as you always remember to keep yourself from over stimulating substances and always remember to never take another puff!


Below message from John Polito:

No Adjustment May be Necessary

It isn’t necessary to surrender our coffee or anything else when quitting – nor pick up any new crutches either – but due to the 4,000 plus chemicals present in each burning cigarette (and in caffeine’s case nicotine), a few intake adjustments may be necessary for some of us and caffeine intake could possibly be one of them.As indicated in the Swanson study (see study summary below), nicotine accelerates the rate at which caffeine is metabolized by the body. It does so to the extent that if a smoker quits using nicotine and continues to consume the exact same amount of caffeine that they did while using nicotine, that their blood serum caffeine level will double (203%).

The capacity of each of us to handle differing levels of caffeine varies greatly. If you normally drink one or two cups of coffee in succession but know from experience that you can handle three or four without experiencing unwelcomed symptoms – like the jjitters, anxiety, shaking, insomnia, or gastric and digestive disturbances – then no intake adjustment may be necessary.

On the other hand, if during those times when you did double your normal caffeine intake you did notice unwelcomed symptoms then you need to act accordingly so as not to add those symptoms to any associated with nicotine withdrawal.

Look on the bright side – it’s cheaper being an ex-smoker because we only require half as much caffeine in order to get the same punch. The next few minutes are doable!


The impact of caffeine use on tobacco cessation and withdrawal

Addictive Behaviors, Jan-Feb 1997, Volume 22(1), Pages 55-68.

Authors: Swanson JA, Lee JW, Hopp JW, Berk LS.

Department of Health Promotion and Education, School of Public Health, Loma Linda University, CA 92350, USA.

Continuous caffeine consumption with smoking cessation has been associated with more than doubled caffeine plasma levels. Such concentrations may be sufficient to produce caffeine toxicity symptoms in smoking abstinence conditions.

To test whether caffeine abstinence influences smoking cessation, 162 caffeine-using smokers were enlisted from American Lung Association smoking cessation programs. Volunteers were randomly assigned by clinic to caffeine-use and caffeine-abstinence conditions and measured for 3 weeks post-smoking cessation, at 6 months and one year.

Results showed a significant linear increase in caffeine sputum levels across 3 weeks post cessation for those who quit smoking and continued using caffeine. Three weeks after cessation, concentrations reached 203% of baseline for the caffeine user. Typical nicotine withdrawal symptoms occurred during the first 16 days of cessation. The caffeine abstainers, but not continued users of caffeine, reported increased fatigue during the first 3 days of cessation. Among complete caffeine abstainers, compared with caffeine users, there was a significant increase in fatigue, a decrease in stimulation, and a marginal increase in caffeine craving immediately following tobacco cessation. There were no differences between the groups on other withdrawal symptoms or in cessation success at 16 days, 6 months, or 12 months.

PMID: 9022872 [PubMed – indexed for MEDLINE]

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© Joel Spitzer 2018
Reformatted 06/30/18 by John R. Polito