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Have You Heard of the Surprising Effect of Nicotine Patches on Dreams and Sleep?

If you have been on the search for different ways to quit smoking, then you have probably heard of nicotine patches. It’s one of the most popular Nicotine Replacement Therapies (NRTs) that can help you improve your health and lifestyle.
woman sleeping and dreaming

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Learn more about how a nicotine patch works, nicotine patches dreams, other possible side effects, and alternatives to nicotine patches.

How Nicotine Patches Work

While smoking a cigarette, a supply of nicotine is delivered to the body within seconds. The same is true when using e-cigarettes or vaping. Afterward, the amount of nicotine in the body significantly drops, triggering cravings for another smoke. This specifically causes a smoker to develop addiction and makes quitting so difficult.

A form of Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT) is the use of a nicotine patch. It is a medicated patch that is applied to the skin like an adhesive bandage. Wearing the patch will deliver a constant yet controlled amount of nicotine into the bloodstream for a certain period, such as 16 hours and 24 hours. 

Patches are available in varying strengths, measured in milligrams:

  • For 24-hour patches: 21 mg, 14 mg, and 7 mg
  • For 16-hour patches: 25 mg, 15 mg, and 10 mg

Your doctor will help you determine the appropriate dose based on your habits. For example, for a person who smokes fewer than 7 cigarettes a day, the recommended strength is 7 mg. For smokers who have more than 15 cigarettes a day, a 21 mg patch can be used.

The therapy starts by using the biggest patch that has the largest dose over a number of weeks, shifting to a medium dose for the next few weeks, and lastly, switching to the smallest patch in the last weeks. The patch is not to be applied on the same skin site. It is recommended to use several locations to avoid irritation.

The goal of patch therapy is to help curb cravings, reduce nicotine dependency, and manage withdrawal symptoms. 

The use of nicotine patches is generally considered safe for adults. However, it is not recommended for teens and pregnant women. Make sure to consult your doctor before doing patch therapy for proper guidance on the correct dosage and length of use.

Wearing Nicotine Patches May Cause Vivid Dreams

A lot of nicotine patch users share that they get extremely vivid dreams, and sometimes, lucid dreaming when they wear a patch to sleep. The dreams they had were very detailed and realistic. For instance:

  • A user dreamt of a violent scene where his family member got stabbed. He woke up sweating and ready to run off to the police when a minute later he realized that he was wearing his patch.
  • The same user shared that he had a dream where he was eaten by a clown and was able to talk to relatives that have passed away.
  • A female user reported dreaming about being at work, which can be a very busy scene. The dream for her was stressful, and she woke up multiple times from her sleep.
  • Another user shared that he had a dream where he spent an entire week on a snowboarding trip and had 10 hours of road trip. He would remember details such as going to the resort, his friends, the mountains and having the ability to fly.

While these may seem harmless, using a patch during bedtime can disrupt sleep, and having detailed nightmares can get scary or stressful. Now, what exactly is the link between nicotine and sleep? 

Understanding REM Sleep

REM, which means rapid eye movement, is an important part of the sleep cycle. During this period, the eyes move around rapidly without sending any visual stimuli or information to the brain. It happens approximately within 60 to 90 minutes after falling asleep and takes up around 25% of sleep. Typically, a person goes through 3-5 REM cycles per night. 

This phase is where the brain is very active, similar to waking life. The following also happens in the body:

  • Fast and irregular breathing
  • Increased blood pressure
  • Increased heart rate
  • Increased oxygen consumption in the brain
  • Changes in body temperature
  • Twitching of limbs

This is where we also dream. Then, the brain paralyzes the body for protection to prevent it from physically acting out the dream. 

REM Sleep and Health

There are plenty of links between REM sleep and health. It is important in keeping our brain sharp and our well-being in top condition. Several hypotheses state that it stimulates areas of the brain that are important in retaining memory and mood regulation. It may also help in learning a new skill.

The lack of REM sleep has been associated with inflammatory responses and increased risk for obesity, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and depression. Research also suggests that it affects memory.

Nicotine Patch and Dreaming

Nicotine is a powerful substance that can make you feel awake and alert. As a stimulant, it affects the ability to fall asleep and stay asleep, regardless of how tired you may feel. When you sleep while wearing a patch, the effect is that nicotine blocks ponto-geniculo-occipital (PGO) waves which are an important feature in REM sleep. 

PGO waves are critical signals in dreaming. When PGO waves are blocked, the brain gets confused and mixes up awake and asleep signals. This leads to micro arousals, which means having daytime awareness and recall while dreaming, leading to an intense dream and restless sleep. In some cases, this can cause insomnia and anxiety.

Other Possible Side Effects

Aside from dreams and sleep disturbance, the other possible side effects of using a patch are the following:

  • Headache
  • Nausea
  • Dizziness
  • Body aches
  • Skin redness and irritation
  • Palpitations or racing heartbeat
  • Hallucinations

It is also important to note that nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) can potentially lead to health problems such as long-term dependence because it still contains an addictive substance. Smokers may transfer dependency from tobacco to replacement therapy, making quitting ineffective.

Alternative Methods That You Can Try 

Woman listening to hypnosis audio.

Practice Meditation

One of the main reasons why people smoke is to reduce stress, anger, anxiety, and tension. As an alternative, practice mindfulness meditation techniques to help resist cigarette craving and manage withdrawal symptoms. Studies show that this intervention can significantly reduce stress and improve self-control. 

Listen to Hypnosis Audio

A study saw an 81% success rate in patients who want to quit smoking and a 95% satisfaction rate with the use of hypnosis for treatment. Use a free mobile app Quit: Hypnosis to Stop Smoking to listen to hypnosis audios. It is completely safe, guided by certified hypnotists, and it offers a personalized hypnosis plan to help you meet your health goals.

It’s very easy to use. You can track your progress by logging in to know how long and how many cigarettes were not smoked. The app can also show how much you have saved. You can use it anywhere and anytime you are comfortable.

This hypnosis app helps smokers achieve breakthrough goals by shifting mindsets and resetting behavioral patterns. Listening to hypnosis audio can be safely combined with NRT and prescribed medication. 

The app also comes with unlimited access to their entire library where you can also search audios to sleep better and help against anxiety. Download the app today and start your journey to better health.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is a nicotine patch a good way to stop smoking or vaping?

Using a patch can help you stop and manage withdrawal symptoms. However, consult your doctor first for the proper dose and treatment plan over a number of weeks.

Can nicotine patches give you a bad dream?

Nicotine delivered to the bloodstream while sleeping can lead to restless sleep and unusually realistic dreams, but it will not necessarily give you a bad dream.

Why do nicotine patches affect sleep?

Wearing a patch during sleep forces your brain to be more active like when you are awake, disrupting sleep.

Can you smoke while using a nicotine patch?

No. It increases your substance dependency and tolerance. Additionally, it puts you at risk for overdose.

Is listening to hypnosis audio safe?

Yes, it is safe. It has zero negative effects and does not involve any medicine intake.

Does hypnosis audio work?

Results vary per person, depending on their level of commitment. It works for most people. You may also see positive results after the first session.

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