Does Caffeine Keep You Up At Night?

Does Caffeine Keep You Up At Night?

How to sleep better without giving up coffee.

There’s nothing better than a morning cup of coffee – the aromas, the warmth, the ritual. But can drinking coffee affect your sleep at night?

Coffee is delicious, but like any substance, it should be enjoyed responsibly, especially as far as sleep is concerned.

This doesn’t mean you need to give it up – we’d never try to get between you and your morning coffee. But, we do have a few tips that can help you manage your intake, get better sleep, and wake up more refreshed so you don’t feel like you need as much coffee in the first place.

So what can you do? Here are 3 tips:

1. Set a Caffeine Curfew

Set a hard stop-time for caffeine at least 6 hours before bed. This includes coffee, teas, colas, chocolate, energy drinks, and any other caffeinated substances.

Caffeine has a 5-8 hour half-life. This means that in 5-8 hours, half of the caffeine consumed remains in your system. 5-8 hours after that, half of that amount is still present, and so on (source – pg. 29).

The average Canadian consumes 3 cups of coffee a day (source) – this doesn’t include other caffeine sources. It’s easy to see how this can add up and disrupt sleep when you don’t set a caffeine curfew.

2. Be Mindful of How Much You’re Drinking

Knowing how much caffeine is in your drinks and snacks can help you purposively limit your intake.

How much caffeine is in…

1 cup coffee 1 cup tea 16 oz. cola 16 oz. energy drink 100 g chocolate
~100 mg ~30 mg ~40 mg ~150 mg  ~40mg

 3. Learn How Caffeine Affects Sleep

Knowledge is power. In his book “Sleep Smarter” (find it here), Shawn Stevenson – health expert and host of the Model Health podcast – explains the physical affects caffeine has on sleep. He describes the impact on the nervous and endocrine system as follow:

Caffeine & Your Nervous System

You brain cells produce waste throughout the day – one type of waste is a neurotransmitter by-product called “adenosine”. When adenosine build-up reaches a certain level, it signals that it’s time for rest.
Caffeine is similar in structure to adenosine, so it will fill receptor sites intended for adenosine – when this happens, your body won’t get its natural rest and recovery cues. The vicious cycle of fatigue and caffeinating continues.

Caffeine & Your Endocrine System

Caffeine tells your adrenal glands to produce adrenaline and cortisol. Cortisol is your “get up and go” hormone and adrenaline is your “fight or flight” hormone. While this will certainly add some pep to the immediate future, it will also cause a crash that will result in less energy than you initially had in the first place.
Making positive lifestyle changes should be sustainable and cutting caffeine completely isn’t realistic for most people long-term. Making small changes like setting a caffeine cut-off time in the afternoon can make a big difference.