We all know things we drink or eat, like coffee, can actually spoil our sleep. I’m going to write about these substances, starting with caffeine.
The substances that can interfere negatively with our sleep include caffeine, alcohol, tobacco, the amount of fluids we drink, and certain foods.
Today I will focus on caffeine…
Most of us have experienced how coffee, or any other drink that is high in caffeine, boosts our alertness. How can caffeine do this? It blocks the substance that our brain produces to promote sleep. This substance is a neurotransmitter known as adenosine. This alertness effect we get from drinking or eating caffeine makes us take longer to fall asleep, and it also reduces our deep sleep time in our sleep period.
And it doesn’t stop there since caffeine is also a diuretic, so it makes us wake up to pee!
The sensitivity towards these effects from caffeine vary greatly from one person to the other. Personally, I don’t have much trouble falling asleep and staying asleep if I drink coffee at night, but I do know many people who do not have coffee or caffein-drinks after 3:00 pm so that they can sleep better. This timing, although it is intuitive, is related to the time our body takes to eliminate this caffeine. It takes 3 to 5 hours to clear half the caffeine we ingested from our system.
Knowing this, it is important to limit the amount of caffeine we take during the day, and to reduce it substantially as the time to sleep approaches, or simply stop our caffeine intake after 5:00pm.
What can we ingest that contains caffeine? obviously coffee, most teas, sodas, but also chocolate and some cold medications.
If you plan to cut back your caffeine intake, do it gradually since your body can be dependent on caffeine, and not having it abruptly may make you have headaches, feel fatigue, and be irritable.