Caffeine: get your timing right to avoid sleep problems

Caffeine is one of the most widely consumed psychoactive substances in the world. Despite widespread social acceptance and easily availability the fact remains that caffeine is a powerful stimulant -hence it has the potential to significantly impact the quality of your sleep.

One of the biggest causes of sleep loss is consuming caffeine too late in the day. Surprisingly, the effect you get from caffeine in the afternoon can be similar to what would happen if you were to consume coffee just before you sleep.

This was demonstrated in a 2013 study published in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine which found that “caffeine taken 6 hours before bedtime has important disruptive effects on sleep“.

So bear in mind that if you consume a large cup of coffee as you commute or drive home, it may have adverse effects on your sleep.

How does caffeine affect sleep?

Caffeine’s stimulant effect works by blocking the effects of adenosine, a molecule which signals the brain to relax. In addition, caffeine influences other chemicals such as dopamine, leading to increased brain activity and alertness.

So when you try to sleep with caffeine in your system, you tend to have a reduced total sleep time, shallower sleep and increased sleep latency i.e you tend to take more time to fall asleep.

It can easily turn into a vicious circle. Coffee keeps you awake resulting in you waking up fatigued. So in order to help you wake up, you drink more coffee.

So to help you manage your caffeine intake here are some suggestions to mitigate some of the harmful effects if can have on sleep:

1. Stick to a 2 o’clock cut off

To avoid disruption of sleep, restrict your caffeine consumption to morning hours only. In case you have coffee cravings in the afternoon, make sure you satisfy them prior to 2PM.

2. Taper caffeine as the day progresses

Begin your day with a caffeine kick and continue to ease out as the day progresses. Morning is the peak time for caffeine cravings and also when it can do most good to you by shaking you out of slumber. As the day progresses, move to tea or decaffeinated coffee. This will make sure that you keep the overall daily caffeine intake moderate and your system gets comfortably caffeine free by the afternoon.

3. Anti caffeine pills

Anti caffeine pills work by speeding up the metabolism of caffeine in your body thereby allowing you to get rid of it before bed. When you take anti caffeine pills, you will have an easier time getting to bed as they reduce the effects of caffeine.

4. Avoid Jumbo drinks

These days every drink comes in a jumbo size option and caffeine drinks are no exception. Jumbo-sized drinks deliver enough stimulants to keep you awake the whole night. It is wise to keep your coffee cup small so that caffeine levels remain manageable.

Another thing to remember is that caffeine is everywhere including sodas and  energy drinks, chocolates, snacks, green tea and even beef jerky!

The bottom line is that an innocent looking cup of afternoon coffee can be the major cause of sleepless nights. It is in your best interest to follow the above-mentioned tips to avoid harmful effects of caffeine on your system.

About the author

Tim Linnet PharmD, the Chief Executive Officer, Co-Founder, Linnet Corp., We created the #1 supplement “RutaSleep” for caffeine consumers seeking to relax & sleep. We have received approval for 1 of our patents (US20120322816-A1) and have 2 more pending.

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