Do you ever find that you are having troubles sleeping? Exhausted throughout the day you feel like you are barely going to make it through? How many cups of coffee do you consume per day? If you don’t drink coffee, is there another method of caffeine you use to wake yourself up? Do you wake up without caffeine? Many people don’t think about the importance of sleep. We always find ourselves wanting more sleep that moment our alarm goes off in the morning and we tell ourselves we are going to go to sleep earlier that next night, but it doesn’t happen. Many people rely on caffeine to wake them up when they lack sleep; some rely on it everyday even when they aren’t even that tired, it’s just become a morning routine. Some people know it’s going to be a long night studying or at the office, so they rely on the coffee to keep them moving through the day, some people even drink coffee in the evenings. An estimated 80 to 90 percent of North Americans habitually consume caffeine.

If you decide to search up “caffeine” on Google, the first thing to pop up is is a bitter, white crystalline xanthine alkaloid and a stimulant drug. Caffeine is found in varying quantities in the seeds, leaves, and fruit of some plants, where it acts as a natural pesticide that paralyzes and kills certain insects feeding on the plants” Sounds appealing doesn’t it? By much surprise, caffeine is the most widely consumed drug in the world. We consume it almost daily without even thinking about it, some would argue that it’s not even a drug, which on both ends I can completely understand the argument. Caffeine is a stimulant to the central nervous system, and regular use of caffeine does cause some physical dependence. But caffeine doesn’t threaten your physical, social, or economic health the same way addictive drugs do. Caffeine use can be associated with several distinct psychiatric syndromes: caffeine intoxication, caffeine withdrawal, caffeine dependence, caffeine-induced sleep disorder, and caffeine-induced anxiety disorder.

Taking in caffeine is an every morning routine that most people rely on to “wake them up”. Well over 50 percent of North Americans rely on coffee to wake them in the morning and get their day started. Some aren’t able to function properly without it! For those who cringe at the thought of coffee, they find other things to have in order to get their caffeine “fix”. Energy Drinks, Pop & Tea are the highest common substitutes for Coffee. Some even go to the extent of taking caffeinated pills to boost up their energy levels. Some try to stay clear of caffeine and they consume “decaffeinated” coffees, sodas and energy drinks – just because they taste great? I have always thought, people must really love the taste of coffee to drink it “decaffeinated” with no purpose of using it to “wake them up”. Most people don’t know that decaffeinated coffee still contains caffeine, it might be about one tenth as much, but it is definitely still in there.

Myth: “Coffee has no effect on me.  I can have a coffee right before bed and have no problem going to sleep.”

Fact: If you ingest enough caffeine you may have trouble getting off to sleep but in a regular caffeine consumer this is not usually where the damage is done.  Caffeine adversely affects the quality of your sleep

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Not only will caffeine keep you awake throughout the day, it has also been proven to decrease sleep time by up to three hours per night. Making it more difficult for people to go to sleep, it also has been proven to increase the number of awakenings sleepers have throughout the night. Believe it or not, caffeine has the same pharmacological effects on the body as many of the substances we associate with doing harm. Of course, coffee is so well integrated into our culinary culture that we barely give its health effects a second thought. Caffeine actually takes up to 6 hours for just half of it to escape your system; this can cause restlessness, nervousness, irritation and insomnia. How you react to caffeine may be determined in part by how much caffeine you’re used to drinking. People who don’t regularly drink caffeine tend to be more sensitive to its negative effects.

Sleep plays a vital roll in good health and well being throughout your entire life. Getting enough quality sleep at the right times can help protect your mental health, physical health and quality of life. The way you feel while you’re awake depends in part on what happens while you’re sleeping. During sleep, your body is working to support healthy brain function and maintain your physical health. In children and teens, sleep also helps support growth and development. The damage from sleep deficiency can occur in an instant or it can harm you over time. For example, ongoing sleep deficiency can raise your risk for some chronic health problems. It also can affect how well you think, react, work, learn, and get along with others. Overall, sleep assists your brain in functioning properly.

Overall, sleep and quality of sleep in humans is affected by caffeine consumption. Caffeine’s effects on sleep appear to be determined by many factors including how much, the time between caffeine ingestion and the time you head to sleep, and individual differences in sensitivity and/or tolerance to caffeine.  Caffeine administered immediately prior to bedtime or throughout the day has been shown to delay sleep onset, reduce total sleep time, alter the normal stages of sleep, and decrease the reported quality of sleep. Sleep is a necessity to a healthy lifestyle and benefits weight loss, your heart, your mind and many more. If you find yourself having troubles sleeping, ask yourself how much caffeine you consume on a daily and/or weekly basis. Really think about if the thing you rely on to wake you up daily are actually beneficial for you. Put down that cup of coffee and head to sleep a little bit earlier tonight. I promise you after a few weeks you will find better quality in your sleep and more alertness in the AM when you least expect it!