Everyone has a favourite form of caffeine – let us guess yours… a thick, foamy espresso? Or how about a strong cup of Earl Grey tea?
Whatever your preference, it’s natural to feel like you need a boost of caffeine on a daily basis but there’s no doubt that it can affect our sleep.
While we all know that a late cup of coffee will keep us awake, giving up the liquid gold for good probably isn’t realistic. Understanding how and why coffee affects sleep is the best way to have the best of both worlds.
That morning boost you feel doesn’t come from sugar or energy. Caffeine blocks a sleep-inducing chemical in the brain called adenosine, while promoting production of the heart-pumping adrenaline. Larger amounts of caffeine will also increase your blood pressure.
A moderate intake of coffee is around 2-3 cups per day. Any more than that is deemed excessive. This is because caffeine doesn’t form a part of our nutritional requirements – it’s just a shame coffee tastes so good!
For its physiological effect on your body, the effects of caffeine peak between 30 and 60 minutes after your first cup.
The issue with your sleep is that caffeine’s half-life (the time it takes to remove half of the drug from your body) is up to five hours. This means that it can take up to 10 hours – sometimes longer – for caffeine to completely flush out of your system.
If your bed time is roughly 10pm on weeknights, studies suggest that you should avoid regularly consuming coffee any time after midday – sorry to be the bearer of bad news!
There will of course be occasions when exceptions are made. But if good sleep patterns and better overall quality of life are resolutions, then ensure that those occasions remain exceptions.
Like with any drug, increasing and prolonging consumption can build up a tolerance, which can turn into a negative cycle of reliance. So look to other areas of your life – like regular exercise, healthy nutrition and great sleep – in order to get the most out of your days.
So to ensure you’re getting the best night’s sleep possible we recommend cutting off that caffeine feed from midday onwards!