Coffee before bed: how does caffeine affect your sleep quality?

Coffee before bed: how does caffeine affect your sleep quality?

Caffeine is valued because it fights sleep and fatigue, but it can be a double-edged sword.

Caffeine can really prevent people from falling asleep quickly and sleep well at night ([1]), which means that you you need more caffeine the next morning to feel like an active person. So this is a vicious circle – the caffeine consumer should drink more, such as coffee, the next day, after he consumed it before bed the day before.

How caffeine affects sleep

Caffeine primarily interferes with sleep, blocking the adenosine receptors in the brain. Basically, adenosine is a neurotransmitter that signals the brain that the body is tired and needs rest.

Caffeine fits perfectly into these receptors and prevents adenosine from doing its work. As long as there is a constant influx of caffeine to the receptors, it will be difficult to sleep.

Some lovers of caffeine-containing foods may still be able to fall asleep, although caffeine will block adenosine receptors to some extent, but this dream will usually be shallow and restless.

Caffeine disrupts circadian rhythm

Caffeine not only blocks the adenosine receptors, but if it is consumed too close to bedtime, it can affect the entire circadian rhythm of a person.

Researchers at the Laboratory of Molecular Biology ([2]) in the UK found that when research participants received 200 mg of caffeine 3 hours before bedtime, caffeine delayed their normal circadian rhythm of sleep for 40 minutes. Participants who were also exposed to bright light along with caffeine, showed a delay in the sleep cycle of 105 minutes.

Coffee before bed: how does caffeine affect your sleep quality?

Not only does it affect how well you fall asleep, it also influences how well you feel the next morning.

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Why sleep is important

For people, sleep is a must. Sleep – This is a great time when most of the regenerative processes and rejuvenation of your body take place. Adults should get 7-8 hours of sleep per day, and children should get more  9 hours of sleep every night.

In fact, one of the main reasons why eating large amounts of caffeine is not recommended for children, is that sleep is vital for proper brain development and caffeine can affect the duration and quality of sleep that a child should get ([3]) .

Lack of sleep quality is also associated with obesity, mental illness, high blood pressure, and stress ([4]). Therefore, it is extremely important to get plenty of sleep and rest in general if you want to have better health.

Caffeine and lack of sleep

Unfortunately, caffeine and lack of sleep too often form a vicious circle. People often consume caffeine because they do not get enough sleep, and then caffeine prevents them from getting the quantity and quality of sleep.

Nonetheless, there are some steps you can take to break the cycle and still get enough sleep while using caffeine. Indeed, avid caffeine users can benefit from caffeine detoxification to reduce their caffeine tolerance.

First, it is not advisable to consume caffeine too late in the afternoon ([5]). If you want to go to bed at 10 pm, then you should probably avoid caffeine after 12 noon. If you consumed 200 mg of caffeine at noon, the caffeine’s half-life in  5.7 hours, you still have more than 50 mg in your body at 10 o’clock in the evening.

Coffee before bed: how does caffeine affect your sleep quality?

In addition, it also does not take into account any caffeine that you consumed earlier on the same day, which is also still in the process of absorption by the body. If you have a high sensitivity or low caffeine tolerance, you will most likely need to limit your caffeine intake even earlier.

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Secondly, know your personal safe daily dose of caffeine and avoid over consumption. For most people, this amount ranges from 300-400 mg per day. Insomnia is one of the leading symptoms of caffeine overdose and may prevent you from getting the sleep you need.


And finally, do not consume caffeine as soon as you wake up in the morning. Studies show that caffeine works best ([6]) when it is consumed 1-2 hours after waking up. When we wake up, our bodies are in a natural state of awakening.

If you wait and consume caffeine after you wake up, it will be much more effective in helping you feel alert and productive. In addition, it will help keep you from eating too much caffeine, which will interfere with your sleep the next night.

Signs that caffeine interferes with sleep

If you sleep poorly and are not sure whether caffeine affects your sleep or not, here are some things that will help you determine this effect of caffeine on the quality of your sleep.

  1. Do you have trouble falling asleep?
  2. Do you wake up almost immediately after falling asleep?
  3. Do you sleep, but wake up often throughout the night?
  4. Do you often use sleeping pills to help you fall asleep?

These can all be signs that caffeine is still in your body and prevents you from sleeping well.

While caffeine can be helpful in helping us be more alert and productive during our busy lives, it can also interfere with our sleep. Practicing healthy and sensible caffeine intake will also help improve the quality of your sleep.

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