Who doesn’t love a fresh cup of coffee, a bubbling caffeinated soft drink, or steaming mug of green tea? All around the world, people drink caffeinated drinks as part of their daily routine. Since caffeine is a stimulant, many of us reach for caffeine first thing after waking up to help us feel energized and alert. It’s not uncommon to drink caffeine throughout the day, though. Too much caffeine during the day can make it hard for you to fall asleep, or can interrupt your sleep, ultimately resulting in feeling less rested after sleep.
Caffeine can’t replace your body’s need for sleep, but it can temporarily make you feel more alert because caffeine blocks sleep-inducing chemicals in your brain. Caffeine can also increase adrenaline production. Your body doesn’t depend on caffeine for nutritional needs. Most experts agree that 250 milligrams of caffeine each day – the amount in three, 8-ounce cups of coffee – can be considered a “moderate” amount of caffeine. This amount of caffeine intake is not thought to pose a health risk. However, individuals vary dramatically in their ability to tolerate caffeine. For most, this “moderate” dose may be well tolerated, but for some this dose may significantly disrupt sleep.
Timing is Everything
Caffeine enters your body systems rather quickly; it can take only 15 minutes for caffeine to travel from your stomach and small intestine into your bloodstream. Once caffeine enters your body, it can take up to six hours for one-half of the caffeine intake to be eliminated. Even if you don’t drink caffeinated beverages within 6 hours of sleep, leftover caffeine from a drink 10 hours before your scheduled sleep could be interfering with your ability to sleep well. Try to reduce or eliminate caffeine from your diet within 10 hours of your planned sleep.
Know Your Caffeine Sources
Most people know that coffee contains caffeine, but caffeine also appears in different types of drinks and foods. Caffeinated tea, soda, energy drinks, and chocolate all contain caffeine. Additionally, some medications might contain caffeine. If you suspect that your medications contain caffeine that is keeping you up at night, discuss alternatives with your doctor.
Workable Solutions to Restrict Caffeine for Better Sleep
Abstaining from caffeine all together will help you achieve better sleep, but for most people, simply reducing caffeine intake is enough to enjoy a better sleep boost. If you enjoy sipping hot beverages, consider alternating cups of caffeinated coffee with decaffeinated coffee or herbal teas. You can also cut your caffeinated coffee with decaf, or reduce brewing time for your tea in order to reduce caffeine content. When ordering coffee in a coffee shop, try ordering a smaller size than usual.
Reducing Caffeine Intake: Effects
Many scientists believe that caffeine can cause physical dependence, meaning that it’s possible that you’ll feel negative effects upon restricting your caffeine intake. Example effects might include headache, fatigue, and muscle pain. It might be more comfortable to reduce your caffeine intake gradually, rather than all at once, in order to avoid some of these effects.
National Sleep Foundation, Caffeine and Sleep http://sleepfoundation.org/sleep-topics/caffeine-and-sleep
Coffee & Health.org, Caffeine and Sleep http://www.coffeeandhealth.org/research-centre/overview/caffeine-and-sleep/
Winchester Hospital, Decreasing Your Caffeine Intake http://www.winchesterhospital.org/health-library/article?id=9652