Not getting enough sleep once in a while can lead to grumpiness, irritability, and an overall bad day. However, prolonged periods of sleep deprivation can lead to a number of health risks, including weight gain, high blood pressure, a weakened immune system, and, in general, a decrease in a person’s quality of life. While there are many factors that lead to not getting enough z’s, smoking could be one of them.
If the risk of developing heart disease, cancer, and other deadly illnesses are not enough to sway smokers to quit, new research supports the fact that smoking disrupts the body’s clock and lungs, leaving smokers feeling sluggish and not rested, the Daily Mail reports.
Dr. Irfan Rahman, from the University of Rochester Medical Center in New York, and his colleagues conducted a study on how the circadian clock is affected by environmental tobacco or cigarette smoke. "This study has found a common pathway whereby cigarette smoke impacts both pulmonary and neurophysiological function," Dr. Rahman said.
For the study, the researchers used two sets of mice; one group was set in a chamber with clean air and the other group was exposed to cigarette smoke. The results found that the mice that were exposed to the cigarette smoke were less active. There were also low levels of the protein Sirtuin 1, which is responsible for cellular processes — inducing stress resistance and energy efficiency — thus leading to the sluggish mice. The effects are reversible if the smoker quits, the authors wrote.
"The results suggest the possible therapeutic value of targeting this pathway with compounds that could improve both lung and brain functions in smokers,” Dr. Rahman added.
The Partnership For A Tobacco-Free Maine also says that the reversal effects of not smoking are apparent right away and have long-term health benefits. “Years will be added to your life: people who quit smoking, regardless of their age, are less likely than those who continue to smoke to die from smoking-related illness,” the site reads.
Other research released last September also supported kicking the nicotine habit in order to promote better sleep. A study out of the University of Florida and Research Triangle Park found that “nearly 12 percent of current smokers have trouble falling asleep, almost 11 percent wake in the night, and 9.5 percent wake too early in the morning,” the NY Daily News reports. “The figures for nonsmokers were much lower, and researchers saw that for those who gave up smoking, their sleep improved significantly.”
Dr. Rahman and his team hope that this new research will lead to other developments to treat those who have been exposed to the harmful effects of smoke. “We envisage that our findings will be the basis for future developments in the treatment of those patients who are suffering with tobacco smoke-mediated injuries and diseases,” he said.
Source: Hwang JW, Sundar IK, Yao H, Sellix MT, Rahman I. Circadian clock function is disrupted by environmental tobacco/cigarette smoke, leading to lung inflammation and injury via a SIRT1-BMAL1 pathway. FASEB. 2013.