TUCSON, Ariz. — Smoking is the leading cause of preventable disease, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and quitting is not easy. New research from the University of Arizona Health Sciences shows getting a good night’s sleep could be another tool to help people successfully quit smoking.
“Quitting smoking is hard and causes insomnia,” said Michael A. Grandner, PhD, MTR, an associate professor in the UArizona College of Medicine – Tucson’s Department of Psychiatry and director of the Sleep and Health Research Program. “The more insomnia and stress from not sleeping, the more people are going to smoke, and many of the smoking cessation treatments can make insomnia worse because medications people are using – patches or pills – are actually stimulating.”
While smoking rates are down generally, still one in seven, or 14%, of U.S. adults smoke, according to the CDC. Smoking accounts for 480,000, or one in five, U.S. deaths a year. Although most people associate lung disease with smoking, smokers are more likely to die of heart disease. That’s because nicotine stresses the heart and cardiovascular system, making it a leading cause of preventable cardiovascular disease.
The pilot study, which looked at the correlation between sleep health and successful smoking cessation, was published in June in the Journal of Smoking Cessation. The team, led by Freda Patterson, PhD, a smoking cessation expert at the University of Delaware, found that improving sleep health prior to stopping smoking was associated with greater success in quitting.
A Closer Look at an HIV-Positive Population
Building off those promising results, Dr. Grandner and Elizabeth Connick, MD, chief of the Division of Infectious Diseases in the College of Medicine – Tucson and a member of the UArizona BIO5 Institute, are leading a research team including Dr. Patterson that will focus on smokers who are HIV positive. The new study, “Sleep Training Approach to Reducing Smoking (STARS),” is funded by a $3.85 million grant from the National Institute on Drug Abuse.
The CDC reports smoking increases health risks for people who are HIV positive, particularly for heart disease, cancer, serious lung diseases such as pneumonia, and infections. Yet more than 50% of people who are HIV positive smoke.
“Heart disease is a major cause of morbidity and mortality in people living with HIV, who have higher rates than the general population. Cigarette smoking is the greatest reversible risk factor for heart disease in this population,” Dr. Connick said. “Improving smoking cessation rates in people living with HIV could substantially reduce heart disease and improve overall health.”
The STARS study – which will be conducted via telehealth appointments to ensure participant safety during the pandemic – is currently recruiting participants in Phoenix and Tucson, Arizona. Individuals with HIV who are interested in participating can contact Clincal Research Coordinator Ryan Weltzer at 520-848-4043 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
This research is supported by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, a unit of the National Institutes of Health, under Award No. R01DA051321.
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About the University of Arizona Department of Psychiatry
The Department of Psychiatry, founded in 1967 as one of the original departments in the University of Arizona College of Medicine – Tucson, excels in enhancing behavioral health through scientific research, education, training, community leadership, and service. Dedicated to compassionate, community-based mental health services, the department is leading efforts to comprehensively approach psychiatric disorders, prepare future clinicians, prevent psychiatric disorders, help guide community efforts for improving behavioral health, and provide state-of-the-art care that meets the needs of our communities and promotes social justice. Through the University's partnership with Banner Health, one of the largest nonprofit health care systems in the country, the department is leading the way in psychiatric medicine. For more information, visit psychiatry.arizona.edu (Follow us: Facebook | Instagram | YouTube).
About the University of Arizona College of Medicine – Tucson
The University of Arizona College of Medicine – Tucson is shaping the future of medicine through state-of-the-art medical education programs, groundbreaking research and advancements in patient care in Arizona and beyond. Founded in 1967, the college boasts more than 50 years of innovation, ranking among the top medical schools in the nation for research and primary care. Through the university's partnership with Banner Health, one of the largest nonprofit health care systems in the country, the college is leading the way in academic medicine. For more information, visit medicine.arizona.edu (Follow us: Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | LinkedIn).
About the University of Arizona Health Sciences
The University of Arizona Health Sciences is the statewide leader in biomedical research and health professions training. UArizona Health Sciences includes the Colleges of Medicine (Tucson and Phoenix), Nursing, Pharmacy, and the Mel and Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health, with main campus locations in Tucson and the Phoenix Biomedical Campus in downtown Phoenix. From these vantage points, Health Sciences reaches across the state of Arizona, the greater Southwest and around the world to provide next-generation education, research and outreach. A major economic engine, Health Sciences employs nearly 5,000 people, has approximately 4,000 students and 900 faculty members, and garners $200 million in research grants and contracts annually. For more information: uahs.arizona.edu (Follow us: Facebook | Twitter | YouTube | LinkedIn | Instagram).