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How Does Caffeine Affect Our Sleep?

According to the British Coffee Association, coffee is the worlds most popular drink with around two billion cups consumed worldwide every day. Approximately 70 million of those are drunk in the UK each day. No wonder there is such debate about the effects of caffeine on our bodies, particularly our sleeping habits.

Research has found that caffeine can significantly increase performance and aid concentration. Indeed, the Department of Transport advises drivers to stop for a fifteen minute break and drink two cups of coffee (or another high-caffeine drink) every two hours to alleviate driver fatigue.

Other research suggests that regular coffee drinks may give increased protection against a range of diseases such as heart disease, liver cancer, kidney cancer, ovarian cancer, type 3 diabetes, Alzheimers Disease and Parkinsons Disease.

An Addictive Substance?
A recent report stated that 1 in 5 adults in the UK avoid drinking coffee because they believe it to be addictive or that it can lead to anxiety and stress. The weight of scientific evidence, however, has shown that coffee is not an addictive substance. This may be a glad tiding to latte, cappuccino, espresso and americano devotees. However, what is not such happy news is the undeniable fact that whilst coffee drinkers seek to wake themselves up with a regular caffeine fix, they may be creating a vicious cycle for themselves whereby caffeine is used to combat the tiredness which is the result of not being able to sleep at night because of the caffeine in their systems.

Affect on Sleep
Caffeine is a stimulant and can stay in your body for around six hours. A cup consumed after lunch will linger into the evening, with traces still activating your system as you try to wind down for the night and preventing the body from getting the deep sleeps it needs to rejuvenate itself for the next day. Although individual tolerance levels vary greatly it is feasible that despite feeling exhausted and ready for bed, coffee drinkers often find that they are unable to get off to sleep. 
Caffeine can also impact the quality of sleep, disrupting the night so that one wakes feeling as though they have not rested.

There are studies supporting the theory that caffeine causes physical dependence. A simple way to test this is to eliminate caffeine from ones diet and look for withdrawal symptoms such as headaches, fatigue or muscle pain.

A wealth of conflicting information pertaining to the pros and cons of caffeine can be found on the internet but anyone wishing to read more about sleep issues and sleep solutions can do so on our website. It seems that, as with so many things in life, it is all a question of moderation.

A Simple Rule
If you are reluctant to give up coffee, perhaps the best suggestion would be to regulate your intake and avoid caffeine (including tea, chocolate and some soft drinks) after around 3pm, hopefully allowing the substance to have left the body in time to ensure a good nights sleep.

Suzanne Somers

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