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Coffee: The real culprit behind your insomnia

by , 18 November 2013

Coffee may be stealing your sleep. That's right. A new study has found that caffeine consumption even six hours before bedtime can have significant, disruptive effects on sleep. Here are the details of the study.

While sleep specialists have always suspected that caffeine can disrupt sleep long after it’s consumed, these new findings suggest you should AVOID caffeine late in the afternoon and at night if you want to sleep peacefully.

For the purposes of the study, participants were instructed to maintain their normal sleep schedules. They were given three pills a day for four days, taking one pill at six, three and zero hours prior to scheduled bedtime. One of the pills contained 400 mg of caffeine, and the other two were a placebo, Health24 reports.

On one of the four days, all three pills were a placebo. Sleep disturbance was measured subjectively with a standard sleep diary and objectively using an in-home sleep monitor.

The results: Researchers found that 400 mg of caffeine (about 2-3 cups of coffee) taken at bedtime, three and even six hours prior to bedtime significantly disrupts sleep.

How does a cup of coffee keep you awake?

According to Human Touch of Chemistry, coffee’s ability to keep you awake is all thanks to its primary constituent - caffeine. Caffeine works by changing the chemistry of the brain. It blocks the action of a natural brain chemical that’s associated with sleep.

The study suggests you should avoid caffeine after 5 p.m if you want better sleep.

According to the authors, this is the first study to investigate the effects of a given dose of caffeine taken at different times before sleep.

The results suggest that caffeine generally should be avoided after 5 p.m in order to allow healthy sleep.

In the Health24 report, lead author Christopher Drake, says that “drinking a big cup of coffee on the way home from work can lead to negative effects on sleep just as if someone were to consume caffeine closer to bedtime.”

The bottom line: If you want better sleep, avoid coffee after 5 p.m. Another healthier alternative to drinking coffee is green tea.

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