How too much caffeine is affecting our sleep

It’s that dreaded time of the afternoon – three-thirtyitis has well and truly kicked in, your eyes begin to blur and your only saviour is the rich aroma of coffee as you wait for the caffeine to give you the boost you need. You’ve downed your cup and before you know it, your senses are tingling, your heart is racing and you’re ready to power through for the next few hours before home time.

But then comes the time to sleep – tossing and turning, unable to get comfortable, your eyes are still somehow wide awake, even though your body feels absolutely exhausted. The culprit? It could be caffeine. 

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Why caffeine affects our sleep 

Though it feels like the energy-inducing effects of coffee only last a few hours after first consuming, our body continues to feel those effects up to seven hours after sipping. So when we head to bed and can’t fall asleep, we wake up feeling tired and sluggish and repeat the pattern of over-consumption of caffeine all over again the next day, beginning the vicious cycle of caffeine dependency.

It’s all in the timing

While it pains us to say – everybody is different, so there’s no cookie cutter rule for how and when caffeine can affect your sleep. Some people can drink as many as 6 cups of coffee a day and sleep like a baby, while others have one morning mug and feel jittery for the rest of the week. 

However, the general rule of thumb according to experts is no coffee after midday.

Now, we know what you’re thinking – how on earth am I supposed to make it through the day without my arvo cup of joe? Well, decaf is a good start. Once your body begins to wean itself off caffeine, you’ll notice less of a need for the afternoon pick-me-up and find yourself waking up feeling a little bit more refreshed.

How to beat the afternoon slump without sacrificing sleep

While eliminating caffeine altogether is the best antidote for a great night’s rest, we know it’s not a lifestyle that everyone is inclined to adopt (us included).

If you’re committed to limiting your intake, and need to find a way to beat the afternoon slump, here are a few simple energy kicks that don’t require caffeine:

  • Drink lots of water
  • Go for a quick 15-minute stroll
  • Eat some high energy snacks
  • Increase your magnesium intake
  • Do a full-body stretch
  • Ten star jumps to get the blood pumping
  • Trick yourself with decaf coffee
  • An afternoon boogie to your favourite pump-up song

Setting the mood

When you’re adjusting to your new routine, create a nighttime sanctuary that makes it easy to drift off in. Put down your phone an hour before bed, dim the lights, draw the curtains or even have a long bath to get you feeling zen. Before long, you’ll be drifting off into a sweet, sweet, caffeine-free sleep that your body will thank you for.

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