Boost Your Sleep with Less Caffeine: Tips for Getting Started


Caffeine can have a surprisingly negative effect on the quality of sleep you get every night. But if you're dependent on caffeine for energy, reducing your use isn't easy. You'll want to look at your tolerance levels, how much caffeine you're consuming, and how late you have caffeine. Here are some tips to help you get started.

Caffeine Can Hurt Your Sleep


Caffeine can negatively affect your sleep in a number of ways. You won't sleep as deeply, so you'll feel less rested when you wake up. Drinking caffeine in the evening might even delay your internal body clock.


Caffeine can also hurt your quantity of sleep. It might take you longer to fall asleep. You might wake up more frequently because you're sleeping less deeply. You might need to use the bathroom more frequently because caffeine acts as a mild diuretic.

Tolerance Can Make Things Worse


Unfortunately, you can develop a tolerance for caffeine over time. This is because caffeine binds to adenosine receptors in your brain, and eventually those receptors become less sensitive to caffeine. You'll need more and more caffeine to get the same effects. But the more caffeine you consume (and the later in the day), the more of an impact it can have on your sleep.

Sleep Disorders and Caffeine


Caffeine has a connection to sleep disorders. It can exacerbate restless legs syndrome and insomnia. It can even delay a sleep disorder diagnosis. One of the key symptoms of sleep apnea, for example, is daytime sleepiness. But if you're drinking a lot of caffeine to mask your sleepiness, then you might not go to a doctor for help.


If you're having trouble sleeping, snoring loudly, or just don't feel rested, ask your doctor for a sleep study. Caffeine could be playing a role, or it might be partially masking the symptoms of a sleep disorder.

Timing Your Caffeine Use


To have less of an impact on your sleep, you'll need to time your caffeine intake carefully. Although caffeine reaches peak levels within 30 to 70 minutes of consumption, it has a half life of up to five or six hours. This means it takes that long to eliminate just half of the caffeine consumed.


For this reason, most experts recommend not consuming caffeine for at least six hours before you're going to bed. So if you want to go to bed at 10 p.m., don't have caffeine after 4 p.m. If you're sensitive to caffeine, you might want to stop having any caffeine around 12 p.m.


Don't forget that some foods like chocolate also have caffeine. So if you're trying to boost your sleep, refrain from having chocolate close to bedtime too.

How to Reduce Your Caffeine Intake


When you're reducing caffeine in your life, don't just cut it out cold turkey. Start slowly or you'll be hit by some bad side effects. Withdrawal symptoms can include headaches, grogginess and fatigue. You might even feel muscle aches, irritability, or depression. A very small number of people may notice their blood pressure increasing. If this happens, see a doctor.

Caffeine Alternatives


Try caffeine alternatives to help you kick the habit. Decaffeinated coffee or tea can give you something to sip on during the day. (These still have caffeine, but at much lower levels.) Other drink substitutes include smoothies with nuts (for a protein boost), wheatgrass juice, ginseng or licorice tea, chai tea, water with fruit, chicory root coffee, golden milk, kombucha, or pomegranate juice. Simply drinking cold water or getting up and going for a brief walk can give you a boost too.


Dietary changes can also help. Complex carbohydrates like oatmeal or bananas can give you an energy boost without a crash. Vitamin B deficiency might help. Protein in the form of nuts or seeds can help during an afternoon slump.


Reducing caffeine is a great way to boost your sleep. Limit your intake, try some delicious alternatives, and don't consume any caffeine within six hours of bed. If you're concerned you might have a sleep disorder, talk to your doctor.

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