Coffee is one of the most popular beverages in the world. Over two billion cups of coffee are consumed in the world each day. To narrow down the statistics, Americans drink more than 400 million cups of coffee each day. An average American drinks over three cups of coffee each day. Is this a likely reason why over 40 percent of Americans suffer from sleeplessness?
There are a lot of disagreements on the best time to consume coffee before going to bed to avoid interrupting your sleep. This article explains everything you need to know regarding coffee consumption and sleep. Let’s begin.
First, we will be discussing how coffee consumption affects your sleep and brain.
How Coffee Affects Sleep and Brain
Coffee contains a natural stimulant known as caffeine. Caffeine is also found in tea, chocolate, some medications, sodas, and energy drinks. The amount of caffeine in a cup of coffee ranges between 50miligrams to 400 milligrams depending on the cup size. An 8-ounce cup of coffee contains 95 milligrams to 200 milligrams of caffeine.
Caffeine is known for its negative effects on sleep. This natural stimulant works by stimulating your brain and the nervous system, keeping you awake and feeling less tired. Once you drink coffee, the caffeine is absorbed into the blood. It then travels to the liver, where it is broken down into compounds that can affect the brain and different parts of the body.
In the brain, the caffeine compounds attach themselves to the adenosine receptors. This hinders the adenosine from performing its role. Adenosine is a neurotransmitter that helps your brain relax which makes you sleepy. Adenosine builds up in the brain when you are awake. The more the adenosine builds up, the sleepier you become. Now that it can’t perform its role, you will be awake and alert. This is how caffeine affects your sleep.
The brain also has neurotransmitters dopamine and norepinephrine that are affected by caffeine in coffee. Caffeine increases the levels of dopamine and norepinephrine that results in brain activation. This means that your brain is active, and you are alert. Caffeine also increases the levels of the hormone adrenaline. Hormone adrenaline makes you feel alert and prepared to act in case of anything. An increase in the hormone adrenaline will keep you awake.
The Best Time to Drink Coffee Before Bed
How long before bed should you drink coffee depends on several factors. They include the metabolism rate of caffeine in your body, caffeine sensitivity, body weight, and medications. Let’s begin with caffeine metabolism.
Caffeine metabolism in your body is measured by half-life. It takes four to six hours for half the caffeine in your cup of coffee to metabolize. This suggests that depending on your sleep time, the cup of coffee that you consume in the afternoon can affect your sleep. The recommended time for you to stop drinking coffee is six hours before bed. However, this time frame varies from one individual to another. For some, they can consume coffee some hours before bed and end up sleeping well. It is recommended that you know what works well for you and follows that.
Caffeine metabolism can be affected by factors such as; nicotine, medications, and pregnancy. The caffeine metabolism for those people who smoke is quicker. It may take only two hours for half the caffeine they drink to metabolize.
On the other hand, it can take more than six hours for half the caffeine consumed by a pregnant woman to metabolize. It is recommended that pregnant women avoid coffee and too many caffeinated drinks.
Some medications will either increase or decrease caffeine metabolism in your body. For example, in case you swallowed drugs, your liver might be busy metabolizing those drugs as you enjoy your cup of joe. This means that the cup of joe metabolism has to wait until the medications are fully metabolized. This will increase the time it will take for the caffeine metabolism.
When it comes to sensitivity, there are the normal sensitive people and the hypersensitive people. People under normal sensitivity can work under the six-hour recommendation. However, hypersensitive people should consider cutting out the afternoon cup or avoiding coffee at all costs. Caffeine sensitivity can be determined by the caffeine tolerance level of a person. For regular coffee drinkers, caffeine sensitivity is low because their bodies have developed caffeine tolerance. This does not only apply to coffee but to everything that has caffeine in it.
How to Tell if Coffee is Affecting Your Sleep
If you are used to consuming coffee, it may be hard to tell if it is affecting your sleep. Here are some signs that show the effects of coffee on your sleep.
- Insomnia during the day
- Need for something to boost your energy when starting your day
- Headaches during the day
- Frequent awakenings during the night
- Anxiety during the night
- Long timeframe falling asleep during the night
However, if you have trouble sleeping, consider visiting a doctor for a clear diagnosis on the cause of your sleeplessness and for them to prescribe treatment.
Alternative Ways to Improve Your Sleep
There are other ways that you can use to improve your sleep other than monitoring your caffeine intake. They include:
- Eat a healthy diet
- Exercise but not within 3 hours of bedtime.
- Sleep in a cool, quiet, and darkroom
- Stick to a specific sleeping routine
- Use green tea, chamomile tea, lemon water, diluted apple cider vinegar
The recommended time to stop drinking coffee or caffeine is six hours before bed. However, as stated earlier, caffeine works differently for every individual. The best way to know the best timing is through trial and error. You can start with minimizing the cups of coffee you take and see how that goes. Next, you can try different coffee consumption timings before bed and see if it affects your sleep. This is the only way to know what works best for you. Within a few days, you will be sure what works best for you.
Also read: How to Fall Asleep After Drinking Coffee