How to handle fatigue…

Quitting smoking and fatigue

By Olena Kovalenko

Fatigue and difficulty concentrating are very common withdrawal symptoms after quitting smoking. Withdrawal usually starts a few hours after you quit, this is in the form of a craving and this may peak in 2 or 3 days, whereby you can feel irritable, restless and stressed. This is not the case for everyone, especially when you are supported by products or medication as a stop smoking aid. But if it is, you should soon begin to feel better after that. Some people get through it quickly, while for others it can take longer.

Many people experience extreme fatigue after quitting smoking because of how much nicotine is in a cigarette, which can lead to nicotine withdrawal. As your body reacts to the lower levels of nicotine and other chemicals throughout the day, you can end up feeling tired out and lethargic.


Symptoms of fatigue

  • chronic tiredness, sleepiness or lack of energy
  • headache
  • dizziness
  • sore or aching muscles
  • muscle weakness
  • slowed reflexes and responses
  • impaired decision-making and judgement
  • moodiness (such as irritability)


Fatigue feels like you have an overwhelming urge to sleep, but you may not feel refreshed after you rest or sleep. Fatigue often occurs along with other symptoms, such as: depression and lack of desire to do the activities you once enjoyed. Trouble concentrating or focusing.


Depending on how long you’ve smoked and how many cigarettes you have a day, symptoms of nicotine withdrawal can last anywhere from several days to several weeks. Nicotine withdrawal involves physical, mental, and emotional symptoms. The first week, especially days 3 through 5, is always the worst.


Quitting can cause fatigue because nicotine is a stimulant. Fatigue will lessen over 2-4 weeks. Take frequent naps. For some people exercise helps.


Withdrawal symptoms appear 4–24 hours after someone smokes their last cigarette. The symptoms peak about 3 days after quitting and then gradually subside over the following 3–4 weeks.


If you’ve been smoking for a long time, then you’re likely to suffer worse withdrawal symptoms. You might find that you’re more sleepy than usual when trying to quit, but this should subside after a few weeks. You may also find that you’re able to fall asleep more easily, and sleep for longer once in bed.


Top tips for your sleep pattern: If you’re tired and can manage to fit it in during the day, take a nap. If not, at the end of the day, go to bed a little earlier than usual.


The good news is that you will eventually start feeling more energetic!!!!


It is absolutely normal to feel like your brain is “foggy” or feel fatigue after you quit smoking. Foggy brain is just one of the many symptoms of nicotine withdrawal and it’s often most common in the first week or two of quitting.

Common causes of tiredness and fatigue include: not getting enough sleep or finding it hard to get to sleep (insomnia) an unhealthy lifestyle (such as having an unhealthy diet and not getting much exercise) stress, depression and dealing with life challenges, such as bereavement or looking after a new baby.

People who smoke can often take longer to fall asleep, have more disturbed sleep patterns, and wake up more frequently. Nicotine can also make the inside of the nose and airways swell, which can affect your breathing while you’re sleeping.

What you can do to help?

  • Get active. Physical activity helps you burn calories. …
  • Shop for healthy groceries. Decide what you will buy before you get to the store
  • Stock up on sugar-free gum
  • Create healthy eating habits
  • Never let yourself get too hungry
  • Sleep well
  • Control your drinking


Tips to take Care of Yourself

  • Eat a well-balanced diet. Your body needs good-quality fuel now as it works to flush the toxins from cigarettes out of your system
  • Get more rest. Chances are that nicotine withdrawal will leave you feeling fatigued for a few weeks
  • Drink water
  • Exercise daily
  • Take a daily multivitamin


According to research, your dopamine levels will return to normal after 3 months, and the reward part of your brain no longer requires nicotine.

If your fatigue gets worse or lasts longer than a week or two, it’s time to see your doctor. Your fatigue might be related to an underlying illness or infection, especially if it’s accompanied by symptoms, such as a low-grade fever, shortness of breath, or loss of appetite.

If you need support from a professional, please contact our team at 0800 013 0553 or click here to self refer.