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Caffeine and Insomnia

  • Watch Out For Caffeine Overload to Sleep Better

  • Tired of not getting a good night’s sleep? One thing to try is reducing your caffeine consumption.

    According to sleep experts, caffeine overload can lead to insomnia, increase the number of times you wake during the night, and interfere with deep sleep.

    “Although caffeine stimulates the central nervous system, most people who consume a moderate amount—equivalent to two to four cups of brewed coffee a day—aren’t bothered by it,” says Elizabeth Pham, M.D., a family medicine physician with Sutter Medical Foundation in Davis.

    But people who consume more than 500 to 600 mg a day (equal to about four to seven cups of coffee) may experience sleep problems, in addition to other side effects like nervousness, restlessness, irritability, nausea, gastrointestinal problems, fast or irregular heartbeat, muscle tremors, headaches or anxiety.

    And if you’re especially sensitive to caffeine, just a cup of coffee or tea could disrupt your sleep or make you jittery.

    “Your sensitivity to caffeine is related to many factors, such as body mass, age, smoking habits, drug or hormone use, stress and health conditions, in addition to how much caffeine you’re used to consuming,” says Arfin Din, D.O., a Family Medicine physician with Sutter Medical Foundation . Research also indicates that men may be more susceptible to caffeine’s influence.

    Because sleep loss has a cumulative effect, a few minutes of lost sleep each night can add up and interfere with your daytime performance at work. A normal impulse would be to use caffeine to remain alert throughout the day, but while you’ll feel a temporary jolt, caffeine is no substitute for sleep. This habit can result in a vicious cycle of sleep deprivation.

    Some tips for reducing your caffeine intake that may increase the quality and quantity of your sleep:

    • Know what products contain caffeine. In addition to the usual suspects—coffee, tea, sodas and energy drinks—caffeine is contained in chocolate products, some over-the-counter pain relievers, and coffee-flavored ice creams and yogurts.
    • Cut back gradually to reduce the effects of caffeine withdrawal. Try brewing tea for a shorter period of time, or reducing your coffee or soda consumption by a little each day. If you quit abruptly, you may experience headaches, fatigue, irritability and nervousness.
    • Try decaffeinated products. Many kinds of coffee, tea, soft drinks and pain relievers are available in this form.
    • Avoid caffeinated products, including coffee, tea, soft drinks and chocolate, for at least four to six hours prior to bedtime. Although the effects of caffeine in a cup of coffee can be felt in as little as 15 minutes, they can take hours to completely dissipate.
    • Even if you don’t want to eliminate caffeine from your diet, try to limit your consumption to about 200 mg a day, or the equivalent of two 5-ounce cups of coffee.