MS, nicotine and fatigue


I quit vaping three months ago. For the past 25 years I’ve been addicted to nicotine in some form. For the last 10 years that’s been patches, gum or vaping. I’m a 38 yr female, I’ve had relapse-remitting MS for 13 years, and I could possibly be classed as benign as I have had it mild. I’ve always felt grateful I didn’t really suffer fatigue… until now…

Going cold turkey from nicotine has had two different effects on me. On one hand, it’s cured the insomnia I’ve struggle with for years overnight. I now fall asleep the second my head hits the pillow which I’ve never experienced before. It’s always taken me an hour at least to fall asleep. I would sleep no more than six hours a night, often less. Nicotine is known to affect sleep quality (disrupts your deep REM sleep) and I’m pretty sure my nicotine intake had gone up with vaping as you can do it almost everywhere so I’ve been pretty wired!

But I also often feel extremely exhausted despite sleeping better. I’d hoped it was just my brain chemistry needing to normalise but after three months I still feel more tired than usual. Every afternoon I feel snoozy like I could sleep and I struggle to watch box sets at 9-11pm with my partner my eyes just close. I know anyone, MS or not, experiences this when giving up a stimulant such as nicotine but thought by three months it should have gone. I wonder if this stimulant has been masking my MS fatigue. I’m sleeping about 7-8 hours but feeling more tired during the day.

We know smoking is bad for MS. There are studies suggesting nicotine on its own may have a protective effect.

Nicotine might have a protective effect in the etiology of multiple sclerosis. … CONCLUSIONS: Our results add evidence to the hypothesis that nicotine exerts anti-inflammatory and immune-modulating effects in a way that might decrease the risk of developing MS

I’m glad to be free of something I was addicted to, glad to not suffer such bad insomnia anymore, glad I’m saving about £100 a month. Plus we don’t really know the effects of vaping what those chemicals do generally to our health or to MS.

But I’m also half tempted to go back on a low level dose of nicotine, to see if I’m less fatigued. I really did enjoy vaping but think if I did it should be patches. I also wonder if my nicotine addiction has played any role in keeping me well.

I’ve not been eating great and have put on a stone after quitting, so I think I’ll get to six months before making a decision and try slim down and eat better and exercise to see if that improves my fatigue levels.

Thoughts anyone?

Hi I think when my mum gave up smoking she put on weight, she said it was eating a snack or biscuit when you have a cuppa as you would normally have a smoke instead. I am glad that you have given up it’s a hard thing to do. Another thing that came out of giving up cigarettes was that you could easily take up the habit again, or that you get very anti smoking and can’t stand the smell.

On the good side is that your sense of smell and taste becomes better as cigarettes tend to dull the senses.


Good on you.

Thanks Kay, actually gave up smoking about a decade ago. Quit vaping this time round.