As much as we love our coffee, apparently there is such a bad thing as poor timing on when to drink it! It’s becoming more common to drink coffee before bed, whether you’re a night owl or you have to cram study for a test in the morning. However, there are several reasons as to why drinking coffee before bed may not be a good idea.
The Science on Caffeine and Sleep
Many of us know the pain of drinking any liquids before bed; either insomnia kicks in, or we are getting up every hour to pee. It must be the caffeine!
Everyone has a circadian clock or rhythm; it is our internal clock letting us know when to go to bed and when to get up.
When you consume caffeine 3 hours before bedtime, it can induce a 40-minute delay which disrupts our 24-hour biological sleep clock.
A study published in Science Translational Medicine recruited 5 people to take part in a 49-day procedure where they were tested under four sets of sleeping conditions: low light with a placebo pill; low light with a caffeine pill (=200mg, dependant on the person’s weight); bright light with a placebo pill; and bright light with a caffeine pill. Melatonin (the sleep hormone controlled by the internal clock) levels were measured through saliva samples.
When the caffeine pill was taken in low light, participants experienced roughly a 40-minute delay in their circadian sleep patterns, worsening in the bright lights which extended the sleep delay to 105 minutes.
The only positive thing about this study is the shortcut to resetting your internal clock if you are a frequent traveller and experience jet lag. If you’re travelling west, you can use caffeine to help your body adjust to the time at your destination, but if you’re traveling east, it’s best to avoid caffeine altogether.
Switch for Sleep
Everyone responds to caffeine differently, so testing some options for evenings to see what works for you is a good idea. Here’s what you can try:
- Start trying to drink less than 400mg of caffeine per day.
- Test drinking coffee at a different time of the day.
- For morning people: try alternative drinks for the evening such as caffeine-free herbal teas, or warm milk with cinnamon and honey. Don’t drink caffeine up to 6 hours before bed.
- For night people: consider caffeine-free alternatives to test your sleep quality.
If you can’t live without coffee even in the evenings, why not go with decaf? Ours tastes like regular coffee without nearly as much caffeine. You can find ground or whole bean decaf at our shop or on Amazon. However or whenever you decide to take your coffee, we hope you at least get a good night’s sleep!
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