Caffeine consumption in the afternoon can interrupt nighttime slumber, a small research study says. Even if you ingest caffeine, whether in pill or liquid form, six hours before bedtime, the effects can still rob you of sleep.
The study, published Friday by Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine, focused on 12 healthy people with normal sleep habits. The participants took three caffeine pills per day for four days. One pill contained 400 milligrams of caffeine while the other two were placebos. The pills were taken at different times during the evening: six hours before bedtime, three hours before bedtime, and then right before bedtime.
The results showed the effects were pretty much the same no matter how many hours before bedtime caffeine was ingested. At least one hour of sleep can be lost. In fact, the effects of caffeine can be felt as long as 12 hours post ingestion, and can affect getting to sleep and staying asleep.
Your morning caffeine intake, however, is fine, says Dr. Len Horovitz, an internist at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City. If you’re concerned about your overall caffeine intake, it’s important to limit your caffeine intake eight hours before your bedtime.
Looking for a Natural Pick-me-up?
- Eat breakfast. This is the most important meal of the day. Your mama was right about that. Focus on protein and fiber as these will fill you up. Oatmeal and whole grain cereals, fruit, yogurt and some nuts are all good choices.
- Drink water. Most people do not drink enough water on a daily basis and this is an easily overlooked beverage. If you are well hydrated, you won’t feel as sleepy; this is an effect of being well hydrated. If the taste of water bothers you, you can put in a slice of lime or lemon to freshen the flavor.
- Drink green tea. Aside from having many health benefits, it is caffeine free and you can drink as much as you want although I would suggest drink between 4 and six cups a day.
- Choose healthy snacks. That means avoiding your favorite candy bars as they would give you an all-too-brief energy boost before your energy level crashes. Snacks such as unsalted nuts, vegetables (carrots, celery, radishes) and hard-boiled eggs are portable.
- Take a nap! Ten to 15 minutes should suffice. If you nap longer than that, you will feel groggy the rest of the day.
Lastly, and this should be obvious to everyone, make sure you sleep a set amount of hours every night. Poor sleep habits can contribute to a number of health problems such as weight gain and heart disease. The average is six to eight hours a night but whatever the amount you sleep, it’s important to stick to a schedule. If you slept little the prior night, catching up the following night will not be of much help. It is also not beneficial to sleep in on the weekends when your body is used to awakening at the same time every weekday. Create a sleep schedule and stick with it.
By Juana Poareo