Caffeine and Sleep

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servings per day.

SYMPTOMS:

Caffeine is a stimulant. In moderate doses, it can:

  • Increase alertness
  • Reduce fine motor coordination
  • Cause insomnia
  • Cause headaches, nervousness and dizziness

It has also been known to result in:

  • Anxiety
  • Irritability
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Excessive urination
  • Sleep disturbance
  • A "caffeine crash" once the effects wear off

TREATMENT:

If the conditions listed under "symptoms" occur, discontinue the use of caffeine. These effects are more likely to occur if caffeine is consumed in large doses. Children and women who are nursing or pregnant should avoid caffeine. People who are taking any prescription medication should talk to their doctors before consuming caffeine.

Knowing the caffeine content of your food and drinks can help you keep caffeine intake at a healthy level so you can still reap the benefits of a good night's sleep.

COPING:

In order to sleep better at night and reduce daytime sleepiness, try practicing the following sleep tips:

  • Maintain a regular bed and wake time schedule including weekends
  • Establish a regular, relaxing bedtime routine such as taking a bath or listening to music
  • Create a sleep environment that is dark, quiet, comfortable and cool
  • Sleep on a comfortable mattress and pillows
  • Use your bedroom only for sleep and sex
  • Finish eating at least 2-3 hours before your regular bedtime
  • Exercise regularly but avoid it a few hours before bedtime
  • Avoid caffeine (e.g. coffee, tea, soft drinks, chocolate) close to bedtime
  • Don't smoke -- not only is it a major health risk it can lead to poor sleep
  • Avoid alcohol close to bedtime; it can lead to disrupted sleep later in the night

POLL DATA:

According to the 2001 Sleep in America poll, 43% of Americans are "very likely" to use caffeinated beverages to combat daytime sleepiness.

Reviewed by:

Greg Belenky, M.D.

Dr. Belenky received his B.A. degree in Psychology from Yale University and his M.D. degree from Stanford University. He completed an internship in internal medicine at the University of Utah, and a residency in psychiatry at Yale. Dr. Belenky is Research Professor and Director, Sleep and Performance Research Center, Washington State University Spokane. Prior to