How To Sleep After Drinking Too Much Caffeine [12 FAQs and 5 Tips- One of Them is Bonkers..]

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Coffee is packed with caffeine.

The caffeine keeps you awake and alert. It is well-known to disturb sleep and make the quality of your sleep worse.

Caffeine makes it hard to go to sleep in the first place.

So, what happens when you’ve drunk a triple-shot espresso an hour before bed?

How can you sleep if you’ve been knocking back lattes all day?

You’re buzzing. You’re wired. You’re climbing the walls.

What can you do?

Is there anything that can help you catch a few z’s?

[1] How Long Does Caffeine Stay in your System?

Most of the caffeine is absorbed in 45 minutes.

Your body processes half of it in about four to six hours, but some stays in your system for much longer.

But it takes more than 24 hours for the rest to leave your system.

[2] How Long Does Caffeine Affect Your Sleep?

The more recently you had your cup of tea or coffee, the more affect it will have on your body.

So, if you had a cup in the morning, your sleep will likely be better.

But caffeine stays in your system a long time, even a little in the morning can affect your sleep.

It affects your sleep all day and all night.

[3] Why Can I Sleep After Drinking Coffee?

Coffee makes you dehydrated.

Dehydration makes you sleepy.

And, if you are already tired, this can build up to make you more tired than you were before drinking the coffee.

Also, maybe your one of those people with a high tolerance with caffeine.

One of the lucky ones.

[4] What is caffeine?

Ever wondered why your coffee works like an early morning alarm clock? Why does your favorite chocolate bar summons your hyper personality? Or, what’s inside a freshly brewed tea that keeps your mind more awake while you’re studying? 

Calm down, the answer to your question is actually a chemical stimulant called “caffeine.” Caffeine is the main ingredient responsible for the instant kick of alertness, faster breathing, adrenaline rush and lively heart rate from these kinds of food.

Well, thanks to Friedlieb Ferdinand Runge! He is the German chemist who discovered caffeine in coffee. At the age of 25, Runge isolated the active ingredient caffeine from a bag of coffee beans! Since then, people started using caffeine as a key substance for various stimulants, beverages, and even medications. 

Looking into caffeine’s history – people have different tolerance levels when it comes to caffeine intake. As caffeine stimulates the brain and nervous system, it may trigger high levels of emotion. At best, you may feel highly energetic or motivated. At worst, caffeine may increase irritability, headache and anxiety. No worries, because if you take caffeine in moderation, the negative effects is less likely to occur.

[5] Which products contain caffeine?

Caffeine is not only present in your favorite cup of latte. Believe it or not, there are more than 60 plant families that are “caffeine-producing.” If you’re more of a tea person, you enjoy the benefits of caffeine with every calming sip. Matcha tea and strong black tea are considered high-caffeinated. If you enjoy white tea or green tea, you’re consuming a much lower caffeine content than the previous two. 

The infamous soda is another caffeine-infused beverage that people love all over the world. Who would not go crazy over a freezing cold cola on a hot summer day? The term “Cola” itself originated from “kola nut”, a natural caffeine source. However, most soda manufacturers tend to add more caffeine making each bottle irresistible for sugar-hungry consumers. 

Just like in soda, caffeine is also highly concentrated in energy drinks. Combined with high amounts of sugar, caffeine is widely consumed by athletes, and sporty individuals. More than any workers who need extra boost, most athletes rely on caffeinated drinks for increased physical endurance and stimulation. 

While caffeine is found in milk and dark chocolate, it’s often overpowered by theobromine (another energy stimulant found in Cacao). These ingredients make chocolate a satisfying treat to boost mood and increase alertness. 

Most pain relievers are similarly caffeine dependent. Remember the day you had a really bad headache and your mother asked you to sip a cup of tea? Over-the-counter medications like Aspirin, Vivarin,  and Midol medically functions the same way! Apparently, these pain-relief capsules won’t work effectively if not for caffeine.

[6] Does decaffeinated coffee cause sleeplessness?

Your coffee is decaffeinated for a reason. Although your cup may still contain a tiny dust amount of caffeine, it’s less likely to cause you sleeplessness (compared to caffeinated ones.) Try adding a portion or two of milk into your decaf if you think it’s messing up with your sleep. If you’re still having trouble sleeping, skip coffee altogether and try other healthy alternatives. 

Sometimes, decaf is not just your cup. Herbal teas which are caffeine-free is one of your options. Chamomile tea and Valerian tea can also help you doze off to your dreamland faster with their anxiety-reducing benefits. You can also enjoy a warm glass of Almond Milk on nights when sleep acts like a stranger.

Night time meditation also works well with your choice of sleep-inducing beverage. Practice good bedtime habits and stay committed to it. Lastly and if all else fails, getting health advice from your doctor will surely give you a night full of uninterrupted ZZZ’s.  

[7] Other caffeinated drinks that might cause sleeplessness

Sleeplessness can often lead to insomnia if not treated promptly. The first thing to do when your sleep quality fluctuates is to reassess your general habits and daily routines. More often, the food and beverages we consume contributes the most to this inability to doze off. 

Aside from the Starbucks coffee you indulge to every work-day morning, some beverage also contains caffeine. It may be the large Cola you drink when you eat at Subway. The energy drink your friend offered you during one morning run might be the culprit! Perhaps, it’s the chocolate bar you love eating right after dinner (while you’re binge watching Suits). These products, which are all rich in caffeine, may have woken up your brain cells more than you needed! 

Apparently, the caffeine stimulant is all over your pantry (mostly, inside your fridge!) The ultimate precaution is to always read the labels and make sure to not overindulge on things no matter how seemingly flavourful they are. For adults, the average FDA-approved caffeine consumption should not exceed 400 milligrams per day. Go into a habit of checking and counting your caffeine intake to avoid sleeplessness. 

Lastly, if you are in doubt with the beverages you’re drinking, stop drinking it and take a water detox. 

[8] How does caffeine affect sleep quality?

Sleep is the human body’s way to recover after a long day of being actively awake. Every night, your cells need to hibernate and regenerate. But for someone who lives in a crazy schedule, getting a good night’s sleep is like booking a vacation to the Bahamas (during a peak season!) You just can’t get a slot for a thousand reasons so you just go dip at the nearest pool. It isn’t satisfying and you don’t feel renewed! 

It happens. Workloads continue to pile up, deadlines tick at the clock, your social life dragging you to the club.. your body is begging you for some rest but you just can’t stay still. The only way through is with a caffeinated drink. Caffeine is a sought-after saviour but at the end of the day too much reliance on this stimulant can make your body suffer.

Naturally designed to keep your energy levels higher than usual, caffeine can affect your sleep quality by increasing your heart rate, wakefulness and alertness. Your body normally produces Adenosine everyday, a chemical that lulls your neurons to sleep. True to its mission, caffeine is seriously blocking these neurochemicals so you could stay up longer. Ideally, caffeine should only block Adenosine for a short period of time. Consuming higher dose of caffeine at regular intervals make them stay in your body longer causing harmful sleeplessness to your body. 

Aside from blocking the sleepy Adenosine, caffeine in return calls out a tribe of Dopamine to celebrate inside your brain. Dopamine is the “Happy” neurochemical. Once these smiling warriors start to work you suddenly feel more giddy, excited, alert, and positively ready for anything! Isn’t it a wonderful picture? Definitely lit unless it’s 2 AM but you’re the only one awake in the neighborhood.

[9] What other activities might be causing your sleeplessness?

Caffeine isn’t the only culprit when it comes to sleeplessness. Most of the time, your daily habits are the ones scaring sleep away. Here are some of them:

  • Not sticking to a decent bedtime. While no one is superhuman, it’s a human tendency to treat the body as if it can endure anything. Why not? When pushing yourself to your limits is the new cool? This concept may work on everything else but not in your health. Give yourself the break it needs when you need it. Stop going to bed at 3 AM when you can do it at 10PM. Sure, your body can tolerate irregular sleep schedule for some time but the harmful effects will eventually surface. Prioritize your health by organizing your bedtime. 
  • Letting gadgets lull you to sleep. Gadgets are awesome techy companions. It’s almost impossible to live without them. In fact, the majority of people even sleep beside their devices (yep, we’re talking about your smartphone!) While snuggling with your phone is the most entertaining way to fall asleep, you won’t feel happy knowing how it alters your sleep pattern negatively. Your electronic device emits a blue light. You can’t fall asleep because your body feels like it’s daytime even when it’s night. Before you knew it, it’s already 2AM and you’re still insta-scrolling!
  • You drink before bedtime. Drunk sleep is wayyyy different from deep and healthy sleep. Your body doesn’t regenerate the same way when you’re intoxicated with alcohol. This is why you suffer from hungover the next day. When  you’re on a habit of drinking to fall asleep, it would be even harder to sleep when you stop drinking. Choose a healthy lifestyle and get back to your healthy sleeping routine.  

[10] What are the best bedtime drinks?

Nothing beats a warm glass of milk before bedtime. When it works as the best sleeping beverage when you were younger, expect the same result even when you’re older. In case you are lactose-tolerant, the calming properties herbal teas have is a delightful alternative. Don’t feel guilty to enjoy enjoy smoothies filled with milk and fruits such as Banana Almond Smoothie. Rich in calcium and magnesium, this delicious drink is both filling and sleep-inducing. 

A cup of coffee right after dinner and hours before bedtime wouldn’t hurt as well. For those who have low caffeine tolerance, you can still enjoy the rich taste of coffee in its decaffeinated form. A glass or two of drinking water keeps you hydrated throughout the night so never ever skip it. Simply put, the best bedtime drinks are the ones which  are hydrating and calming. Stay away from sugary drinks at night for it might spike up your happy emotions and hyper tendencies. You wouldn’t want that in the middle of the night unless you’re off to a music fest you’ve been dying to see.  

[11] Are there simple yoga moves that might help?

Another reason why you can’t instantly drift to sleep is the increased tension in your mind and body. Maybe you’re anxious or your lower back hurts so bad. When your mental, emotional and physical condition is not in sync, your sleep pattern suffers.This is where the magic of yoga proudly comes in. 

Try these simple yoga poses in the comfort of your bed and fall asleep much easier:  

Legs Up The Wall – Sit in front of a sturdy wall with your butt at least 5 inches away from it. Slowly push your legs up the wall and stay still for at least three minutes. Benefits: Relaxes the hamstrings and lower back. It relieves tired feet and calms the mind. 

Child pose – Sit on your heels and extend your torso forward. Feel your body relax and breathe your anxieties away. Benefits: One of the most therapeutic and restoritative yoga pose. It stretches the thighs and ankles, soothes the mind, and restores mind and body health. 

Corpse Pose – Lie flat on your back with your legs and arms comfortably resting. Relax and slowly drift off to sleep.

[12] And what about meditation?

Yoga and meditation comes hand in hand. Both teaches us to let go and be in touch with our inner self. Meditation encourages peace and invites quiet into your mind. Eventually, it will manifest into your body and you’d fall asleep like a child. While the rest of the world is racing, take some time to relax your mind. Play some sleep meditation tunes to help you release all the stresses of the day.

One useful meditation strategy is writing down your reflections or journals for the day. It’s okay to write down your worries and vent some of your day struggles. However, make sure that your journal includes 70% of the things you’re grateful for during that day. Gratitude always brings peace to the anxious. It’s a proven way to look at the brighter side of everything. 

You can also practice Mindfulness Meditation where you pay attention to your body, specifically your breathing. If your troubles keep bugging you, try to shift your mind into the here and now. Be patient and do not judge yourself. After meditating, watch your body fall into a deep sleep of contentment and calm.

Tips For Better Sleep After Drinking Caffeine

Tip 1: Escape Technology

So, you’re wired on caffeine.

You’re up all night. Your eyes are glued to the screen.

You’re trying to come up with solutions to your caffeine-fuelled insomnia.

Take a breath, count to ten and step away from the computer. Shut it down.

Switch your phone off and sit in a dark room. Avoid watching the TV all night!

No screens. Read a book instead.

If you must do something, read a book in low light, maybe listen to some music.

Don’t check your emails. Don’t scroll through your tweets.

Every notification gives you a hit of dopamine, making you addicted to checking for the next one.

None of that helps you sleep.

If you find it hard to avoid you phone, leave it in another room when you go to bed.

And remember- keep your bedroom cool. Leave the lights off.

Tip 2: Kick Back & Relax

Coffee makes your body and mind tense and alert.

The more you can relax, the better it will be.

Sit and enjoying the feeling of the bed, the comfort of the fabric around you.

Perhaps give meditation a try, focus on your breath and the sensations in your body.

Relax and maybe give meditation a try.

Relax your muscles. It helps reduce the stress in your mind and body.

It focuses your mind on the present moment, instead of worrying about work tomorrow.

Meditation lulls you to sleep.

Find a track on YouTube or download one of the many meditation apps.

Create a relaxing atmosphere.

Many people find the sound of rain or gentle music helps.

The calming sounds can distract you from the stress of the day.

Some people like white noise, like the sound of a dripping tap.

You could even try some yoga.

The corpse pose is well-known to encourage sleep.

It helps you relax in the most difficult circumstances.

Finally, if you’re still too tense, take a half an hour to read a book in a dimly-lit room.

Or, have a warm bath or shower and focus on the sensation of the washing over you.

Tip 3: Drink Warm Milk

Drink a mug of warm milk (maybe with a spoonful of honey if you prefer).

Try drinking some warm milk. Photo by Lorenzo from Pexels.

For some people it can help produce melatonin, a chemical in your brain that helps you sleep.

Avoid sugary foods as they energise you.

Try eating foods high in carbs, a slice of toast or some porridge.

Carbohydrates jack up the amount of sleep-inducing chemicals in your body.

Though don’t eat too many late at night.

With all things late at night, moderation is best. You don’t want to wake up with a tummy ache!

If you’re looking for a healthier option, drinking enough water can help you sleep.

Tip 4: Coffee Naps

It sounds counter-intuitive right?

But if you need to drink caffeine, it’s best to have it before a 20-minute nap.

The brief sleep clears the chemicals from your brain that stop coffee working.

There’s good scientific data to back up the effectiveness of this method.

So, if you’re dead set on drinking caffeine to keep moving, have a quick snooze after you’ve drunk it.

Drink coffee and then sleep!

Wake up twenty minutes later when the caffeine is at its most effective.

Some of the science actually suggests you could survive by replacing your normal sleep with coffee naps.

Good luck!

Tip 5: Exercise

Get some exercise.

Don’t rush to the gym at midnight.

Don’t sprint on the treadmill- instead do some light exercise.

But not too much.

Get your body moving without increasing your body temperature too much. Go for a short stroll round the block, take in the night air.

Can’t sleep? How about a gentle walk? Photo by Steven Arenas from Pexels.

Try some light stretches before bed.

You could try a technique called progressive muscle relaxation.

Tense and release each muscle in turn.

Start at your toes and work your way up to your head.

Tense each muscle for five seconds.

If you want even more help with sleeping after drinking coffee, this post contains 32 tips.

Closing Thoughts

Ultimately, if you want to get good sleep, avoiding coffee altogether is probably for the best option.

If you really want to sleep like a baby, stop drinking coffee!

Try as we might, there is no getting away from this. 

If you’re already wired from your fifth espresso, these techniques might prove handy.

It is possible to sleep after caffeine, even a lot of it.

But the sleep you get will likely be of worse quality and you’ll have to drink more coffee in the morning to wake up.

Sleep tight. We hope the bedbugs do not bite.