If you’re wondering what’s keeping you up at night, it could be the coffee you drink during the day. Caffeine is safe for most adults and can even have essential health benefits. Too much of it can contribute to insomnia and other sleep issues.
While you could give up coffee sacrificing no essential nutrients, it’s rarely necessary to go that far.
Learn how to enjoy your daily caffeine habit and still stay well rested.
Facts about Caffeine:
- Understand the chemistry. Caffeine is a stimulant. It blocks the effects of a neurochemical called adenosine that makes you feel sleepy. It also increases your dopamine levels, so you become more alert.
- Spot the symptoms. You’ve probably noticed that it’s more difficult for you to fall asleep after you’ve been drinking coffee. Caffeine can disrupt your body clock because it suppresses melatonin. You may wind up reducing your sleep time and deep restorative sleep that your mind and body need.
- Know the benefits. Studies show that moderate use boosts your mood and mental performance, and may lower your risk for many dangerous conditions including certain cancers, diabetes, heart disease, and Alzheimer’s.
Managing Your Caffeine Intake:
- Consider each source. While coffee and tea account for over 90% of the caffeine in the average diet, there are additional sources that may surprise you. Caffeine is also in chocolate, colas, and even over-the-counter and prescription medications.
- Measure your consumption. According to the Mayo Clinic, it’s wise to limit your caffeine consumption to less than 400 milligrams each day. That’s about 4 cups of coffee.
- Downsize your servings. You also need to pay attention to the size of those cups. A single giant mug or oversized fast food cup could put you over the limit.
- Set a curfew. Timing counts too. Caffeine takes about 20 minutes to go to work, and the effects can last for 6 hours or more. If you want it out of your system by bedtime, have your last cup of coffee in the early afternoon.
- Take a break. Tolerance to caffeine builds up quickly, so it will have more impact if you resist overindulging. You may even want to taper down on some days.
- Avoid energy drinks. Many experts warn against products like energy drinks and caffeine powder that deliver large amounts of caffeine. They can contribute to heart conditions and anxiety, especially when combined with alcohol.
- Drink more water. Water is an excellent supplement to coffee drinking. Downing, a glass of plain water first thing in the morning may help you wake up with less coffee than usual.
- Turn up the lights. Exposure to light is another safe way to make your brain more alert. Take a morning run or walk around the block during your lunch hour.
- Try coffee naps. For an occasional boost, try drinking a cup of coffee before taking a 20-minute nap. You’ll find you’ll be waking up just when the caffeine kicks in.
- Talk with your doctor. Your doctor can advise you about any individual concerns about coffee. Cut back if you have high blood pressure or you’re pregnant or nursing.
Caffeine can have positive effects for most adults when used wisely. Knowing when and how to drink your coffee will help you enjoy your favorite brew without disturbing your sleep.