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How Caffeine Is Ruining Your Sleep

Posted in General Health 23 Jan, 2015

Getting a good night’s sleep is vital for our overall health and wellbeing, but with modern life becoming increasingly more hectic, it can be difficult to achieve. According to a report by the Mental Health Foundation around 30% of the population are sleep deprived, meaning they are more at risk of suffering from mental health issues that can potentially lead to other lifestyle problems.

After experiencing poor quality sleep, many of us wake up fatigued and then go to work, struggling to feel alert. This is when you may feel inclined to drink coffee to try and stay awake. The effects are felt almost instantaneously, as caffeine can be absorbed into the bloodstream within 15 minutes.

How coffee can affect your sleep patterns

Most people will suffer no ill effects from consuming caffeine, but too much of it, especially in the hours before going to bed, can have a negative effect on your sleep. Caffeine in the bloodstream can result in lighter sleep, a shorter period of deep sleep and frequent waking.

The problem is that even drinking one or two cups of coffee a day can will have an effect on the body. A 2012 study on caffeine suggested that consuming coffee even as long as six hours before going to bed can have a disruptive effect on sleep. This is because it can block sleep-inducing chemicals like melatonin that enable you to have a good night’s rest. So even your afternoon cup of coffee could prevent you from experiencing quality sleep.

One study from 2008 suggested that abstinence from caffeine for just one day can improve sleep quality. The trial study also found that subjects had less difficulty falling asleep on the days where they switched to decaffeinated coffee.

How much sleep do I need?

According to the National Institute of Health, healthy adults should aim for between seven and a half to nine hours of sleep every night to function at their best, but many of us are actually getting a lot less. Therefore it’s worth avoiding stimulants before bedtime if you want to wake up feeling refreshed.

Alternatives to coffee

Try drinking water, herbal or fruit teas before going to bed as these can soothe the senses and promote a sense of calm, preparing you for a good night’s sleep.

Certain types of herbal teas are idea to drink before bedtime and these include chamomile, lemon balm, and peppermint. Chamomile is excellent for relaxing the muscles and the nervous system while lemon balm can release tension and stress in the body. Peppermint is known for its ability to aid digestion and help maintain a restful night’s sleep, so it’s worth sipping if you want to drift off peacefully.

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