We all love our coffee after a late night snack but have you ever had sleeping troubles after that late night cuppa? If you are one of those who suffer from this, do not worry. There are ways to sleep after drinking too much caffeine.
Are we damaging our body by consuming coffee before sleep? What would be a good time to do so before sleep? What can you do if you had been drinking caffeine just before sleep.
You might not realize it but your drinking and eating habits can affect your sleep. Especially if it contains caffeine. It can hide in a lot of things besides coffee or espresso. Drinking too much caffeine can seriously affect your sleep.
What is Caffeine?
Caffeine is a stimulant. Most of us consume it in the morning when we need that rush of alertness and energy. It raises your heart rate and blood pressure. Besides contricting the blood vessels, it stimulates the liver to produce more sugar into the bloodstream. What you get from all this is alertness. You certainly shouldn’t be taking this if you are going to sleep.
Shortly after 15 to 20 minutes, caffeine will start to enter the bloodstream which will then take about 6 hours to be removed. Therefore, if taken in moderate amounts, this can improve alertness but may result in problems with sleeping. In addition, other effects include faster heartbeart and irritability that triggers sleep disturbances.
Studies recommend taking caffeine a minimum of 6 hours before bedtime. The Drug and Food Administration (FDA) advises a limit of 400 mg of caffeine a day for adults. Which equates to roughly 4 to 5 regular cups of coffee. Any more than that may end up in health issues in the long and short term.
Why does Caffeine Prevent Sleep?
The adenosine receptors in your brain acts like neurotransmitters that tells your brain that you are exhausted and need rest. Caffeine basically prevents this from happening by blocking these receptors.
Caffeine fits well into these receptors just like a jigsaw puzzle preventing adenosine from performing its job. So long as there is a constant source of caffeine flooding the receptors, sleep cannot happen.
Some people can manage to get sleep even though they have been drinking caffeine. But this kind of sleep is restless and shallow typically.
For the above reason, caffeine has a serious impact on your sleep cycle. Your brain undergoes these cycles of light, deeper and REM sleep when you fall asleep. So if you are constantly waking up, the cycle resets. Caffeine causes you to miss out on these important sleep cycles.
Your health gets affected. You wake up sleepy, groggy and disoriented. You cannot concentrate and think clearly. Daily activites which ought to be very easy will feel a lot tougher than they need to. You may also experience some hallucinations or wild mood changes.
Does Caffeine Affect Everybody?
Not everyone feels the effects of caffeine the same way. Researchers have discovered a gene CYP1A2 with 2 different variants.
People with the 1F allele metabolizes caffeine gradually. In other words, caffeine affects them longer and it takes longer for it to leave the body. On the other hand, for those with the 1A allele, they metabolize caffeine much faster. They are less affected by caffeine because their bodies get rid of it before they can feel the effects.
You can also become tolerant of caffeine. If you take caffeine on a regular basis, you will realize slowly that you need more and more to keep awake. Younger people are less prone and sensitve to caffeine than older people.
How Late to Drink Coffee Before Bed?
6 hours is what researchers have found to be the optimal number of hours caffeine has in your body. They discovered that test subjects who had been drinking caffeine 6 hours or less before bed stayed awake longer in bed or had poor quality sleep.
So simply subtract 7 hours before your bedtime and that is the latest you can take caffeine. Example, if you sleep at 10pm, then the latest you can drink coffee is 3pm. To be on the safe side, stop at 2pm.
Drinking Caffeine and Sleep Well – Best Way?
We need a minimum of 7.5 hours daily of quality sleep to maintain our mental and physical health. But if you love coffee, I don’t think you would like the idea of giving it up for sleep. However, there are ways that you can enjoy your daily joe and yet get the necessary quality sleep you need.
Stick to a Proper Sleep Schedule
Always try to go to bed and wake up at the same time every day. This also includes weekends as well. By doing so, your body gets acustom to the sleep timing. Once you have this habit in place, you won’t ‘accidentally’ drink any coffee too close to bedtime.
Stop Drinking Caffeine in the Late Afternoons
If your sleeping time starts at 11pm, then it is a good idea to stay away from caffeinated drinks after 4 pm. It takes about 6 hours for your body to get rid of caffeine. For example, if you consume 200mg of caffeine at about 12pm, you would have roughly 50mg left in your system by 10pm. This calculation is based on the half-life of caffeine which is about 6 hours. In other words, it takes 6 hours to reduce the caffeine to half its original amount.
Try Decaffeinated Coffee
Don’t worry if you switch to decaffeinated, most good quality brands taste very similar to regular ones. Take note that decaffeinated does not mean totally no caffeine, but having a cup or two will not affect you much. Sticking to a maximum of 400mg of caffeine a day should be sufficient. If you need to have 3 coffees in the morning, then make them smaller cups.
Have a Coffee Nap
As incredulous as it sounds, it is scientifically proven to work wonders. All you need is 20 minutes, take a power nap and wake up when caffeine kicks in. The nap reduces your tiredness which then helps the caffeine to bind to your receptors and make you more alert. Coffee naps may increase your energy levels than just drinking coffee or napping alone.
What To Do If I Drank Too Much Caffeine?
Well sometimes we forget and had a cup too many before sleep. Nothing much to worry, because 1 night of bad sleep won’t really have a bad effect on your health. Yes, you may feel tired and groggy the next day, but it won’t last for too long.
There are ways to help induce tiredness and to promote sleep if you had too much caffeine.
Take A Long Relaxing Bath
Increasing your body temperature slowly before bed makes you sleepy. Avoid making the water too hot just comfortably warm does wonders. Too hot and it makes it difficult to sleep.
Listen To Music
Calming instrumental music can soothe your mind and switch you into sleeping mood quicker. Stay away from any music with lyrics which can keep your language processing part of the brain working and active. Music with slow beat can reduce your heart rate. Other good sources for relaxing are nature sounds or white noise.
Make Your Bedroom Dark, Quiet and Cool
To keep out the light, get some blackout blinds. Set your themostat to a cool and comfortable temperature. A little cooler than normal room temperature is ideal. Stay away from electronics or your phone or laptop. The flickering screens and blue lights can fool your brain into thinking its is daytime.
Use Essential Oils
Lavendar essential oil can induce sleep quicker. Try lavender wax melts, diffusers or scented candles. You can also place a few drops of lavendar oil by your bedside.
If All Else Fails
Well, if you still cannot sleep, then the only thing to do is to wait it out for the caffeine to wear out. Time is the only last resort cure, unfortunately.
Drinking Caffeine and Sleep Well – It’s Possible
Caffeine can be a useful substance to keep us alert and going throughout the day, but it can adversely affect our sleep. Without proper sleep, we feel less alert and lousy which then creates an endless cycle. But by practicing some caffeine hygience, we can balance this cycle and get the sleep we want and yet remain alert in the day.