How Caffeine Affects Your Sleep

coffee nap better cropThe potential benefits of adequate sleep are endless. Arguably, sleep impacts nearly every aspect of your daily life. While it may be apparent that sleep is extremely beneficial, a significant number of individuals do not know how much sleep they require and perhaps why it is crucial. There has been lots of extensive research done regarding the effects of sleep. These studies consistently reveal that sleep plays a critical in boosting mood, physical health, emotional well-being as well as longevity among other benefits. There are some excellent articles on SleepJunkie.org that talk about these benefits of sleep. Research has also shown that chronic deprivation of sufficient sleep can potentially result in an array of severe medical conditions such as diabetes, obesity, heart health and even early mortality.

For a long time now, sleep and caffeine have always been linked with each other. Caffeine is a natural substance which is mostly extracted from plants. The most notable sources of caffeine may include cocoa beans, coffee beans as well as tea leaves. It can equally be manufactured synthetically. This substance is known to promote alertness. It usually starts to affect the normal functioning of your system very first and achieves peak levels after just thirty minutes. As a typical stimulant, it has a half-life of between three to four hours. In case you didn’t know, half-life refers to the average time your system takes to eliminate half of the drug. It should be noted that the remaining caffeine typically stays in your system for an extended period.

Caffeine is regarded as a moderately effective alerting substance. As such, it can have a positive effect on your general mood, reaction times as well as mental performance. However, one notable negative effect of caffeine is that it can affect and disrupt your sleep pattern significantly. Simply put, it can potentially make it relatively harder for the users to fall asleep.

So how does caffeine affect your sleep?

Caffeine is highly valued because it combats tiredness and sleep. Once consumed, it is absorbed into the bloodstream as well as the body tissues within nearly forty minutes. Caffeine has a similar structure to adenosine, a chemical which is found in the cells of every human. Adenosine acts as a depressant for the nervous system in your brain. Under normal circumstances, it enhances sleep, suppressing arousal by slowing down your nerve activity. Also, adenosine binding makes the blood vessels in the brain to dilate thus increasing both nutrient and oxygen intake during sleep.

To a nerve cell, caffeine is the same as adenosine. As such, caffeine will always bind itself to the adenosine receptors. But, as opposed to how adenosine functions, it never decreases the activity of the cells. Bearing in mind that caffeine uses all the receptors which adenosine binds to, your cells can no longer sense or identify adenosine. This implies that your cellular activity will tend to speed up instead of slowing down.

With caffeine hindering the normal functioning of adenosine, the so-called excitatory neurotransmitters in your brain increases. The pituitary gland in your brain takes advantage of this increased activity, releasing certain hormones which in turn instruct the adrenal glands to release epinephrine. This will eventually result in the temporary sense of increased alertness and wakefulness. Additionally, the increased level of adenosine in your bloodstream causes your adrenal glands to produce the adrenaline hormone. This particular hormone perhaps further adds to the feelings of increased energy and concentration.

At the same time, your pituitary glands will release a hormone known as dopamine. Dopamine can have lots of positive effects on the normal functioning of your brain and body, in general. Dopamine allows the brain to regulate your movement appropriately. In fact, without it, you can hardly walk. However, the excessive amounts of this particular hormone can result in increased energy, and this implies that you’ll become increasingly agile. Constant fidgeting and restlessness are always regarded as possible symptoms of having too much dopamine.

It is worth mentioning that dopamine is a particular type of neurotransmitter and this means that it is essential for transferring data across synapses in your brain to ensure that the various sections of the brain can effectively communicate with one another. This phenomenon is highly important for increased memory, motivation, and problem-solving ability. Perhaps this is why a high number of individuals take the caffeine when studying.

Finally, dopamine is one of the so-called feel good hormones known to boost motivation and happiness. Dopamine is usually released naturally by your system. The increased amounts can potentially result in increased enjoyment and motivation. This partly explains why caffeine is very addictive.

How do you prevent caffeine from impacting on your sleep?

Even though there are many benefits of using caffeine, its prolonged use will ultimately lead to sleep deprivation. In this section, let us examine a few practical and useful ways of how you can use caffeine regularly and still get enough sleep.

  • Never consume caffeine late in the afternoon: If you are a person having a relatively higher sensitivity or lower build up tolerance to caffeine, it is advisable that you should stop taking caffeine earlier before going to bed.
  • Stop consuming it as soon as you wake up in the morning: Studies tend to show that caffeine works better when taken two hours after waking up. As soon as you wake up, your body is still in a state of the natural awakening process. For you to get the best of your caffeine, you should take it probably after this awakening state. It is also believed that this can prevent you from taking excess caffeine during the day thus allowing you to sleep better the following night.
  • Determine your personal and safe daily dose of caffeine: Clinical studies have shown that insomnia is one of the most common symptoms of overdosing caffeine. The prospect of knowing the caffeine content of your drinks can help you maintain your caffeine intake at a healthy level so that you may not compromise your night sleep.

The Bottom Line

Caffeine is an amazing stimulant that not only makes you think faster but also enhances your memory, prevents tiredness as well as starving. It is also great for weight-loss. However, because it affects the pattern of your sleep, it is highly recommended that you use it correctly and according to the doctor’s instructions. Sleep is equally important and may help keep your heart healthy, eliminate stress, improves memory and control certain factors related to body weight.