Caffeine and Sleep

Caffeine is one of the most popular stimulants used worldwide by millions of people. It can be found in many drinks, none more so than coffee. Coffee is enjoyed by people all over the world as a beverage and a “wake me up”. For insomniacs however, it should be on the avoid list.

Caffeine can provide an instant “pick me up” or temporary alertness but can have detrimental effects on sleep and the sleep routine of a person. It is alarming to see the number of people use caffeine or caffeinated drinks to pull them through a busy day. Caffeine works as a stimulant and as such, it stimulates the heart and body. For certain people, caffeine even in small amounts can have negative effects.

The body is affected by caffeine in a multitude of ways. Caffeine increases heart rate and stimulates the central nervous system. It increases blood pressure and decreases blood flow to organs and the skin. Dehydration results from the kidneys being affected by caffeine which increases urinary flow. However, caffeine is not all bad as it can provide the physical and mental alertness in the body during exercise, due to the increased blood flow to muscles. Although over time, this may or may not be conducive to a healthy body.

For people suffering from insomnia or any other forms of sleep disorders, it is best to keep track of caffeine intake. If you do consume caffeine, it is best to limit caffeine intake to around 300 – 400mg each day (the equivalent of 4-5 normal cups of coffee). During the day, caffeine can be provide a quick boost but it should be avoided towards the later part of the day and in the evening, as caffeine can take hours to be completely eliminated from the body.

Limiting your intake of caffeine can mean curbing back on caffeinated drinks such as, coffee, soft drinks/soda, sports drinks and various chocolates. If you are on medication, it is also advisable to consult your doctor regarding the medications which may contain caffeine. Examples of medication which may contain caffeine include , headache medicine and weight loss aids. Experiment on your caffeine intake limit and try and stay within those boundaries to prevent disruptions in sleep.

To put things into perspective, a regular or average cup of coffee contains around 100mg of caffeine, while a regular latte from popular coffee shops can contains as high as 250mg of caffeine per cup. A simple tip for coffee drinkers would be to drink coffee in smaller amounts instead of consuming a large amount at any one time. The caffeine high is reduced in this way, allowing a person to similarly receive the benefits of increased alertness without any major disruptions in the body’s sleep rhythm. In saying that, it is best to avoid caffeine at all cost.

If caffeine is present in our blood stream when we sleep, it can drastically reduce sleep time and deep sleep and overall quality of sleep. Caffeine intake and poor sleep can often become a repeatable cycle for a lot of people. Too much caffeine in one day can definitely make you feel worse for wear the next day.

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