Did you know caffeine has been around since the 17th century? It is a well known substance used in tons of products including energy drinks, diet supplements, and exercise enhancers. It was first isolated from coffee in the 18th century and is mostly found in tea, cacao pods, cocoa, chocolate products, and a few other plants. It is popular due to its effects in stimulating the brain, heightening mood, and stone-walling fatigue. By the 20th century, coffee had become the biggest cash crop on earth: cha-ching! Today, it’s one of the most widely used psychoactive substances in the world with 90% of adults intaking some form of a caffeine-infused beverage almost daily.
When you sip your coffee or take a swig of your BANG, the caffeine goes straight to your brain. It works on two receptors – A1 and A2A. It increases alertness and raises the brain’s adrenaline levels– improving focus and energy. I’ll be the first one to admit I depend on caffeine to help get me going in the morning. When my feet hit the floor, the first place I shuffle to is the kitchen counter to pop in a K-cup.
Of course, the zap of energy garnered from caffeine is a great benefit but we need to consider its adverse effects as well. Caffeine can make it hard to fall asleep and it can reduce the amount of “deep sleep” we get at night. Sleep promotes healthy brain function and emotional well-being. While we sleep, our body is healing, repairing, and maintaining balance. If we look at the big picture, achieving restful sleep is one of the most important habits we can establish. Getting adequate sleep will allow us to feel refreshed and ready to go in the morning without depending on the effects of caffeine to get us moving.
Helpful Hints to Improve Sleep Habits:
· Go to bed and wake up at the same time each day.
· Limit your caffeine consumption to no more than 300 mg – 400 mg per day.
· Avoid caffeine in the late afternoon and evenings.
· Use one hour before bed for quiet time, avoiding strenuous exercise and bright, artificial light.
Caffeine can provide some assistance when we exercise or when we need a little boost for starting the day. However, with today’s hectic lifestyle we could all benefit from getting the right amount of sleep. Ultimately, adequate restful, sleep will help us all enjoy a happier and more productive version of life so when it comes to caffeine versus sleep, sleep wins!