The warm, smooth, rich flavor of coffee is a must-have wakeup call for many sleep-deprived people to jump start their day. For others, drinking coffee throughout the day to stay alert is preferred. Two, three, or four cups later, they’re going strong when others hit the 3 o’clock lag. Whether it’s a regular cup of coffee, a cappuccino, or mocha with soy, coffee is a daily staple for many.
While the caffeine in coffee cannot replace sleep, it may make you feel more alert. Caffeine blocks sleep-inducing chemicals in the brain and increases adrenaline production. This combination gives people the feeling of alertness and feeling “awake.” Once in the bloodstream, caffeine can have an effect on your body as soon as 15 minutes after it’s consumed. Once in the body, the effect of caffeine can last for several hours.
Whether you prefer a cup of coffee in the morning or multiple cups throughout the day, the rich, smooth taste of coffee may have an ill effect on your quality of sleep. According to the National Sleep Foundation, studies have found that it takes about six hours for one half of the caffeine in your body to be removed. Consuming caffeine up to six hours before sleep may have a disruptive effect on sleep. This means that your 3 o’clock cup of coffee will still be in your system when you’re ready to go to sleep at 10 o’clock.
While a warm cup of coffee will wake you up in the morning, it can cause problems when you are trying to fall and stay asleep at night. If you crave java, here’s how to get your coffee fix and still get a good night of sleep.
• Stick to a coffee cutoff. Late afternoon caffeine can cause problems when it’s time to sleep. Keep your caffeine intake to strictly in the morning. If you love drinking coffee into the afternoon, try to have your last cup before 2 o’clock.
• Decrease your caffeine intake throughout the day. Start the day with the strongest amount of caffeine, and then reduce your intake as the day progresses. Try switching to tea or decaffeinated coffee in the afternoon for an enjoyable drink without the effects on your sleep.
• If you find yourself unable to fall asleep at night due to caffeine, try a relaxing bedtime routine such as stretching or drinking decaffeinated tea. Rest your mind by ridding yourself of anxiety or reading a book.
• Remember to look for caffeine in unexpected places. You may be surprised at the foods and drinks that contain caffeine. While you may be cutting back on coffee or soda, remember to watch out for other sources of caffeine such as chocolate, pain relievers, and energy water.
The next time you brew a cup of your favorite coffee, remember to enjoy it and then cut back throughout the day so you can get a great night of sleep.
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