How caffeine really affects your sleep
How would you like to keep enjoying your coffee and still have a good night’s sleep?
Here are our coffee - sleep tips:
1. Don’t have coffee on an empty stomach
Some of you are probably thinking: But coffee is the first thing I consume in the morning. It’s what gets me going in the morning. Here is why that is not such a good idea: Caffeine raises our cortisol and cortisol is our stress or our “awake” hormone. We need cortisol to make it through the day, however, our cortisol peaks about two hours after we wake up, and then it gradually declines throughout the day. In the late afternoon or early evening, the melatonin (our sleep hormone) production kicks in.
Cortisol and melatonin work very well together, and they need to be balanced. They need to be aligned in order for us to function and sleep well.
So, when you wake up and have your coffee at 6:30 am, your body will increase its cortisol production because of the caffeine, and it will think it is at 8:00 or 8:30 am, while it is actually 6:30 am. That can really mess up our body's clock, and cause issues during the day. So, make sure you have your breakfast first and have your first coffee around 8:00, 8:30 in the morning.
Caffeine can really mess with our blood sugar. We want to have our blood sugar in a nice, wavy curve throughout the day. We do not want to have any spikes, because every time that happens, it causes a cortisol reaction and that is not helpful. If our blood sugar is not really stable throughout the day, it will not be stable at night either. If you wake up in the middle of the night, it's highly likely that your blood sugar is not stable. When your blood sugar drops, the cortisol production increases, and you will wake up in the middle of the night, and you might not be able to go back to sleep for a while. In order to have your coffee and keep your blood stable, you can add MCT oils or ghee oil to your coffee.
2. Eat regularly
Make sure you eat enough throughout the day because coffee is actually an appetite suppressant and if you're drinking a lot of coffee, make sure that you eat enough as well.
3. Do not drink coffee after 2 PM
I know that this could be hard for some people because we do have these afternoon crashes, but the crashes are probably coming from blood sugar instability. A caffeine crash occurs when a molecule in our body, called adenosine, that builds up throughout the day, increases. These increases in adenosine levels tell our body that it's time to slow down. If we have caffeine, it will actually attach to the adenosine receptors on the cells themselves, because the chemical structure is very similar to the one of the adenosine. That means that the adenosine’s message of us getting tired doesn't actually get into the brain because the cell receptors are blocked by caffeine molecules. Meanwhile, the adenosine is still building up in the body, but we don't know that, because those caffeine molecules are preventing us from getting that signal. When the caffeine wears off the adenosine buildup rushes right into our cells and that makes us want to sleep or grab another cup of coffee.
Another reason not to have coffee after 2 PM is the fact that the half-life of caffeine is quite long. So, depending on our body type, depending on how fast our liver can get rid of caffeine from our body, caffeine stays in our body for a very long time. On average, 50% of the caffeine that we had, stays in our system for five to eight hours later. So, even half a cup of coffee is enough to keep you up at night, and not sleep.
There was a study done a few years ago, where people were given coffee right before bed, three hours and six hours before bed, and then they had to report back on how they felt. Interestingly enough, people who had coffee six hours before bed, reported that they slept great, but the sleep monitors reported that they missed about an hour of quality sleep each night. That is around 15% of quality sleep that they missed per night. Over time, this can really add up and cause massive sleep deprivation.
So, whenever you have that afternoon craving for a cup of coffee, listen to your body. What does your body really need? Does it need coffee, or maybe it needs a nutritious meal, a five-minute walk, or a big glass of water instead of that cup of coffee?
This blog post was created by our sleep coach Annika Carroll.