How is Caffeine Impacting Your Sleep?
We all know the feeling. You slept for seven hours but still feel exhausted, so you buy a coffee on your way to work. Midday rolls around and the day already feels too long. You can’t relax yet, you’re only half way through. Looks like it’s time for coffee number two. Finally, you’re kicking back watching Netflix after dinner and you reach for the chocolate…
You’re not alone, we’ve all been there!
Have you ever wondered how these daily hits of caffeine are actually affecting your sleep? Everyone knows that caffeine is a stimulant, in moderate doses it can increase alertness and give a boost in energy. It is also the most easily available stimulant, present in many every day snacks and drinks such as coffee, tea, soft drinks and chocolate.
The flip side of the wonderful buzz that caffeine brings is increased wakefulness and difficulty sleeping. Caffeine works by blocking adenosine, which is a chemical in the brain that promotes sleepiness. This leads to the three D’s:
- Difficulty falling asleep
- Difficulty staying asleep
- A Deficit in restorative sleep – this means you sleep, but you feel like you haven’t!
It’s a simple fact. Caffeine consumption in all its forms can cause sleep problems up to eight hours after consumption. Although your morning coffee may be okay, it’s the caffeine in the afternoon we need to be mindful of.
If you want to avoid the three D’s, stop or limit your caffeine intake at least eight hours before bed. The next time you’re feeling run down, try one of these alternatives for a caffeine-free kick:
- Herbal tea. Vanilla, mint or chamomile may just become your best friend if you’re addicted to a hot beverage
- A veggie or fruit juice isn’t going to keep you up at night
- Try a decaf blend of coffee if you’re longing for that coffee flavour without the kick
Snel J. and Lorist, M. M. (2011). Chapter 6 Effects of caffeine on sleep and cognition in H.P.A. Van Dongen and G. A. Kerkhof (Ed.), Human Sleep and Cognition, Part II: Clinical and Applied Research. Great Britain: Elsevier. p. 105-117. Available at https://books.google.com.au/books?hl=en&lr=&id=W_WnBOrXT8wC&oi=fnd&pg=PA105&dq=effect+of+caffeine+sleep+academic&ots=i3m-C3IjZt&sig=xsUKnIx5de-1sLuDgz5xkC-bClE#v=onepage&q=effect%20of%20caffeine%20sleep%20academic&f=false accessed 27 February, 2017.