Do you ever find yourself having that 2:00 in the afternoon thought that you just can’t make it through the rest of the day without a cup of coffee or a Coke? Maybe you drink energy drinks throughout the day to find the energy you need? Do you drink black or green tea before bed and then struggle to fall asleep or stay asleep?
While you may not think some of these things can possibly affect your sleep, any dose of caffeine can cause a spike in energy levels, especially the closer it is to bedtime.
Most caffeinated beverages are often using synthetic sugars and chemicals to create a caffeine effect, which can be worse than just the natural form of caffeine you may be used to in tea or coffee. But even in its natural form, caffeine affects adenosine, the sleep-inducing hormone that builds up throughout the day to help us register when we’re tired. Caffeine slows or stops the flow of adenosine in the brain, which causes us to feel more alert, even if we haven’t gotten much rest.
The problem with this is that many people use caffeine to ignore symptoms of more serious sleep problems, which ends up making them worse in the long run. While we may feel better after drinking a cup of coffee in the afternoon, our body is only just beginning to notice the effects of the caffeine 30-60 minutes after drinking it, and the effects can last for 4-6 hours after. Because the effects don’t leave our system for hours, some people are still struggling to rest or fall asleep when it’s their bedtime, thus causing them to sleep for less time or wake up more frequently in the night, and starting the cycle over again the next day.
Should you stop drinking caffeine? In short, no. If your body is used to a cup of coffee or tea in the morning, then it’s probably fine to continue to stick to that schedule. The problem is more focused on continuous and constant consumption of caffeine, especially in the afternoons and evenings. Long term effects of high caffeine consumption can include insomnia and insomnia-like symptoms, sleep disorders including sleep apnea, and behavioral or focus issues.