If you consume caffeine via the medium of tea, coffee or certain soft drinks past midday, then it is most probably affecting your sleep.
For the most part, we’re all pretty aware of what caffeine is, what it does, and where to get it. What the vast majority of us aren’t aware of is how long it remains active in brains for. And, as it turns out, it’s quite a while. And longer than you might expect, in fact. It comes down to something called the ‘half-life’ and ‘quarter-life’ of caffeine.
Caffeine has a half-life of about 6 hours and a quarter-life of about 12 hours. This means that if you have a cup of coffee, half of that caffeine will still be active in your brain 6 hours later and a quarter of it will still be active 12 hours later. In English, your lunchtime cup of coffee containing 200mgs of caffeine will still be providing a whopping 50mgs of caffeine at midnight.
This will have profound effects on your ability to not only fall asleep but also to stay asleep and have a restful sleep in the process. This situation soon starts to become a caffeine causality loop. Simultaneously caffeine is the very thing preventing you from getting to sleep, having a restful sleep, and the thing most effective at managing a lack of it. Needless to say, the less caffeine in your brain at bedtime, the better.
If you’d like to read more or do your own research on the subject, then I highly recommend checking out the book Why We Sleep by Professor Matthew Walker. If you’re not much of a reader, there are tons of videos on YouTube covering many of the topics raised in his book.
Here are some quick-fire caffeine tips:
- Check the caffeine content of what you’re drinking
- No caffeine after midday
- DeCafeinenated tea or coffee is an option, but remember they still contain a little caffeine
- If you’re having to use caffeine throughout the day to stay alert, then something else is wrong