Drinking coffee might be a great way to round off an evening meal or perk you up in the late afternoon, but it may disrupt your sleep quality when you retire for the night. Because it is a stimulant, caffeine can delay the timing of your body clock and reduce the amount of deep sleep you enjoy. As a result, these effects reduce your total sleep time and disrupt quality sleep. Here’s how…
What is Caffeine?
Caffeine is a natural substance that can be extracted from plants. It can be naturally sourced through coffee beans, tea leaves, and cocoa beans. It can also be synthetically produced.
Caffeine enters the bloodstream through the stomach and small intestine, and can have a stimulating effect within 15 minutes after it is consumed. Once in the body, caffeine will persist for several hours: it can take from 8 to up to 14 hours to eliminate from the body.
Although it is safe to consume in moderation, it is not recommended for children. It can negatively affect their nutrition by replacing nutrient-dense foods such milk. Caffeine may also suppress appetite, and can be safely eliminated from a child’s diet since there is no nutritional value.
How Caffeine Prevents Sleep
Caffeine is a type of drug that promotes alertness. It is commonly known as mental and physical stimulant. It acts as an adenosine receptor antagonist, meaning it blocks the adenosine receptors by inserting itself instead. Adenosine is a substance in your body that promotes sleepiness. By blocking the adenosine receptor, caffeine inhibits you from falling asleep.
Caffeine enters your system quickly and peaks within 30 to 75 minutes. When consumed, it can improve attention and reaction time, and give us a quick boost in alertness. However, it can be problematic. The challenge arises with processing the substance. The half-life of a single dose is 3-7 hours. The more we put in our system, the longer it takes to eliminate it. Depending on how much you are consuming and your overall health, the half-life of caffeine can increase from 11 to 96 hours. It takes 8 to 14 hours to process through the system, and the more you put into your system, the longer it takes to process.
Caffeine is metabolized to paraxanthine, a central nervous stimulant used to ward off drowsiness. The more you consume, the more paraxanthine is produced. As a result, your system builds up an accumulation of caffeine. Caffeine causes you to have a reduction in sleep quality and time, and increased sleep latency.
Caffeine intake and poor sleep is a cycle easily repeated. If you drink too much coffee today and don’t sleep well tonight, you may wake up tomorrow morning and feel worse. To resolve this morning drowsiness, you will likely reach for another cup of coffee and the cycles continues.
Management Tips for Caffeine Intake
Limiting caffeine consumption doesn’t mean removing it entirely from your diet. A moderate amount of caffeine, consumed at the right times, can be useful and even healthy to stimulate alertness and energy. Enjoy your daily dose of caffeine without affecting your sleep by following these simple management tips:
2 o’clock cut off. Caffeine can remain in the system for several hours. Late-afternoon caffeine can negatively impact your sleep quality, even if you aren’t aware of it. To minimize sleep disruption, restrict your caffeine consumption primarily to the morning hours. If you do have a midday cup, make sure to have it before 2 p.m.
Reduce caffeine intake as the day progresses. Start your day with the most highly caffeinated beverage and ease up on the caffeine through the day. When it is most effective is in the morning when you’ll crave caffeine the most. As midday comes around, switch over to tea or decaffeinated coffee to keep overall caffeine intake moderate.
Stick to 8-ounce. It is tempting to super-size your caffeinated drink. From 20-plus ounce lattes or soda to a caffeine-packed energy drink, these beverages deliver unhealthy amounts of stimulants and sugar content. Stick to the old-fashioned 8-ouce cup, and savor each sip.
If you’re properly controlling your caffeine intake and find you’re still having issues with sleep, it may be time to talk to a sleep specialist such as Dr. Mayank Shukla.