Caffeine Insomnia - How does Caffeine Affect the Way you Sleep
Whether you know it or not, caffeine is a colorless and flavourless addictive drug that is found in many of the
foods and drinks that we all consume. It is also found in a number of medicines where it is useful as a cardiac
stimulant and also as a mild diuretic to increase urine production. Foods and drinks such as coffee, tea,
chocolate, cocoa and colas all contain caffeine, which can affect the way you sleep as well as being the cause of
insomnia and sleep deprivation.
More commonly, caffeine can provide a boost of energy or heightened alertness and is often used to stay awake
longer. People from all walks of life use it to stay awake late into the night while others feel as though they
cannot function properly without a cup of coffee first thing in the morning.
As well as being an addictive drug, caffeine stimulates the brain in much the same way as amphetamines, cocaine,
and heroin. Although the overall effects of caffeine are somewhat milder than these other drugs, it is nevertheless
still manipulating the same brain channels which gives caffeine it's addictive qualities. If you are one of those
people that feel like you cannot function without coffee or other caffeine based stimulants, then you are
Caffeine and Sleep Disorders
Caffeine consumption has been linked to many types of sleep disorder,
including insomnia, due to it's physiological effects. Insomnia is a condition when you have difficulty sleeping or
cannot get off to sleep at all. Although insomnia symptoms normally only last a few nights, some sufferers have had
the symptoms last for many months or even years in extreme cases.
Although insomnia can be caused by many other factors such as psychiatric problems, stress, drugs or alcohol,
lack of exercise, excessive noise or light, and certain physical illnesses, it has been found that caffeine
consumption is the most common cause of this sleep disorder.
If your sleep has been disturbed for more than a few weeks and interferes with your ability to function normally
during the day, you should in the first instance consult your doctor.
Caffeine Effects on Sleep Stages
Caffeine is known to directly affect kidney functions and can also be the cause of kidney and/or urinary track
infections. These infections may also interrupt normal sleep cycle or cause difficulty sleeping. You may also have
to get up several times in the night to relieve your bladder which will cause interruption to your REM sleep cycle which will in turn will make you feel tired when you get up in the
morning. The ultimate cure for this problem is to either cut down or cut out your caffeine intake. Since caffeine
does nothing for the flavour of coffee or other beverages, try switching to decaffeinated versions. It is also
worthwhile drinking a glass of water before going to sleep at night in order to flush out your kidneys.
Although giving up caffeine altogether is by far the best option, if you are already addicted to it, there are
ways of making it work in your favour rather than against you. For some caffeine addicts, drinking a cup of coffee
about an hour before going to bed actually mellows out their system thus helping them get to sleep. However, it
should be pointed out that this only works for people whose body has become dependent on caffeine and needs it to
function, even in sleep.
If all else fails and you suspect that caffeine is still causing you problems when trying to sleep, you could
try over the counter sleeping pills or even something as simple as warm milk. Sleeping pills have chemicals that
make your body start to sleep and they can overpower caffeine and most other causes of sleeping disorders. Warm
milk on the other hand has lactic acid in it which releases a chemical when warmed that triggers a natural sleep
cycle. A baby will go to sleep right after you have fed it with warm milk and the same principle applies to adults
The scientific world is divided on the question of whether or not caffeine causes sleeping disorders and it
maybe that they will never know for sure. However, only you know what your body does and if you pay close attention
to what it is telling you, it will let you what it needs. After that, it is up to you to deliver those needs -
caffeine or not.