Caffeine and Sleep

couple having coffee

There are things that naturally go together, like peanut butter and jelly. Sleep and caffeine, however, are not two of those things. So how can your need for caffeine coexist with your need for sleep?

The effects of caffeine

Caffeine naturally occurs in the leaves and fruits of certain plants. It can be found in everything from coffee to protein bars to over-the-counter medications. Caffeine affects the brain and nervous system as a stimulant. Like anything, moderation is key when it comes to caffeine. Used sparingly, it can wake you up and help to make you feel focused and refreshed. In more frequent doses, it can cause anxiety and sleep issues. You can also build a tolerance to caffeine, making to where you need more and more caffeine to achieve the same desired effect.

Caffeine’s short-term effects can be felt anywhere from 5 to 30 minutes after consumption, and they usually last for 5 to 6 hours in the body before wearing off. These effects can include increased:

  • breathing.
  • heartrate.
  • mental alertness.
  • physical energy.

Some signs and symptoms of excessive amounts of caffeine intake include:

  • a rise in body temperature.
  • frequent urination.
  • dehydration.
  • dizziness and headaches.
  • after the energy burst, an even greater feeling of fatigue.
  • rapid heartbeat.
  • restlessness and excitability.
  • anxiety and irritability.
  • trembling hands.
  • sleeplessness.

Timing is everything

So how can you sleep with all of those side effects? Timing and moderation. As mentioned above, it can take 5 to 6 hours for the effects of caffeine to wear off, and for some, that stretches to almost 12 hours. The key is knowing how caffeine affects you, and planning for your caffeine intake throughout the day. Sure, some caffeine sources may sneak into your diet, like a bite of birthday cake at an office party. But having a general plan for when you will consume caffeine will go a long way in letting your body unwind and shut down when it’s time to catch some zzz’s.




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