Caffeine is probably the most easily available stimulant, which we frequently use to our advantage to improve mood, increase alertness and better our thinking skills. However, the flip side is that simply because it is a stimulant, it can significantly interfere with our ability to get to sleep and stay asleep.
So, can we enjoy our cuppa and still have a great night’s sleep?
The unfortunate news is that caffeine can cause sleep problems up to 7 hours after drinking it.
- A cup of coffee takes about 30 minutes to have an effect – and the maximum effect is experienced about an hour after drinking.
- After that the caffeine level in our blood starts to decline but it takes a minimum of 3 hours for caffeine to stop having an alerting effect.
- However, how long this takes depends very much on our age. As we age our metabolic rate slows down and it takes us a lot longer to metabolise a cup of coffee.
- The reality is that in our 40s and 50s, one cup of coffee will still be affecting us up to 7 hours later!
- This means that we need to recognise that caffeine in all its forms – tea, coffee, energy drinks, soft drinks and chocolate – may, in part, be responsible for our sleepless nights.
- Stop drinking coffee and other caffeinated drinks at least eight hours before bed.
Looking for substitutes?
- Herbal tea. Vanilla, mint or chamomile may just become your best friend if you’re addicted to a hot beverage.
- A veggie or fruit juice isn’t going to keep you up at night.
- Try a decaf blend of coffee if you’re longing for that coffee flavour without the kick.
It’s hard to believe that a small cup of semi-bitter, warm milk could be having such a large effect on the seven hours you plan to sleep at night. For a better night’s sleep, resist the urge to have that afternoon latte and just enjoy coffee in the morning hours.
Do you have any other tricks to help you avoid caffeine? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.