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The Smart Sleeper's Guide To Caffeine

Many of us crave a cup of joe in the morning, a pre workout drink to get us fired up, or a cup of tea with a bikkie to savour the afternoon with!

What's not to love about an energy lift to get you feeling better both mentally and physically? That's why Caffeine is the most widely used psychoactive substance used in the world.

Caffeine is a stimulant which means it increases activity in your brain and nervous system making you feel more awake and alert. It naturally promotes wakefulness and counters fatigue, but how?

How Does Caffeine Work?
By blocking Adenosine receptors in the brain. Adenosine is a substance that helps regulate our sleep and wake cycles (aka it's responsible for making us feel tired and fatigued or fresh and ready to go). The more adenosine that binds to receptors in your brain, the more tired you feel.

When Caffeine is absorbed, usually through the stomach and small intestine, it binds to the Adenosine receptors in the brain cells instead of Adenosine itself. However, Caffeine doesn't slow down the cell's activity like Adenosine would. Instead, it causes increased neuron firing in the brain cells and stimulates adrenaline release that results in... you guessed it, more energy!

How Much Caffeine Is Too Much?
Experts recommend we consume no more than 400mg of caffeine per day. That's the equivalent of:

  • Around 4 cups of coffee
  • Around 2-3 caffeinated energy drinks
  • About 9-10 cups of brewed black tea
  • Or about 900 grams of dark chocolate… delicious right. Cocoa contains caffeine!

But when it comes to sleep, it's the duration of caffeine's energy boost that is important to keep in mind.

Caffeine's Half Life
Whilst we enjoy the benefits of caffeine during the day, having too much (especially in the arvo and early evening) can wreak havoc on our sleep quality. Caffeine levels in your blood and brain will peak around 2 hours after drinking caffeinated beverages.

However, the half life (the amount of time it takes for the levels of caffeine in your blood to be halved) for the body ranges from around three to six hours depending on the individual. This means caffeine can impact your sleep if you consume too much later in the day.

You can get less quality deep (NREM) and REM sleep whilst struggling to fall asleep in the first place. A consistent loss of deep sleep increases you risk of chronic diseases, accidents, and long-term conditions that may hinder your health including
- Dementia and Alzheimer’s disease
- High blood pressure
- Heart attack and stroke  
- Type 2 diabetes

Whilst you notice the benefits of caffeine consumption for the first while, your brain is still processing the caffeine long after you consume it.

The result?

Waking up tired and groggy! You're impacted sleep means you don't wake up feeling as refreshed as you could be. This could mean you're more likely to reach for caffeine to stop yourself feeling so tired and repeating the cycle again the next day.

So What's The Best Way To Make The Most Of Caffeine But Still Enjoy A Good Night's Sleep?

  1. Limit yourself to 400mg of caffeine per day. Always smart to play it safe and not exceed the daily maximum recommended amount.

  2. Be aware of consuming caffeine later in the day. Best to consume your caffeine earlier in the day and avoid it after 2pm. This will ensure you're not struggling to fall asleep from caffeine's half life later in the night. Keep in mind it can take 10 hours for caffeine to be completely cleared from your system.

  3. If you're craving a coffee later in the day, have a decaf or hot chocolate to ensure it doesn't impact your sleep tonight!

  4. Go to bed at the same time every night and wake up at the same time every morning. You're more likely to wake up feeling refreshed and minimise the chance of feeling tired and reaching for more caffeine later in the day to get you through.

    There you have it. Enjoy a good night's sleep tonight and use this energy boosting compound in the most effective way possible!
Dylan, Founder @ Hits Different


This information is not intended to diagnose, treat or cure any medical condition. It is not medical advice and is general in nature. Consult your doctor before commencing any new exercise program.


    For more information on caffeine, it's half life and sleep, visit the links below:

     Sleep Education

     Cleveland Clinic

     Sleep Foundation

     How Stuff Works

     Journal of Neuroscience

    Comments (1)

    • Mitch on April 13, 2022

      Great read!

    Leave a comment