Coffee – the nectar of the Gods? Or no thanks, not for you?
This luscious, rich, dark liquid is revered by many.
And coffee is more than a taste – it’s often an experience. It’s a ritual, it’s a habit, it’s an enjoyable part of the day for most people.
For many, it’s also a necessity. Coffee is what gets you going on in the morning and what keeps you going throughout the day.
How does coffee impact your sleep?
Coffee works through this molecule called adenosine. Adenosine makes us feel tired, coffee basically blocks it. And that’s why when you’re feeling tired and groggy, caffeine will give you that quick pick-me-up.
The downside to this system is when you drink coffee too late in the day, it might make it harder to fall asleep. Having lots of good adenosine in your system at the end of the day will help make it easier to fall asleep.
So if you’re having trouble falling asleep when you go to bed at night, take a look at your coffee intake. Either too much or drinking it too late in the day can really interfere with sleep.
ALSO – the big key for caffeine and sleep can be not only how much you’re consuming, but when you’re consuming it. A good rule to stick to is to cut off coffee after 12 PM.
Is coffee healthy?
Like almost anything, the answer is both yes and no. Too much coffee is not healthy, but too much water isn’t healthy either.
Beyond making us feel good, coffee does have some health benefits. It can lower your risk of both Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease, helps improve exercise performance, can improve blood vessel health (so in theory can reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease), and can decrease the risk of some cancers.
But too much is definitely not good. It can increase blood pressure and heart rate, increase your stress hormones, and it’s very acidic, which can aggravate heartburn. Not to mention it can interfere with your sleep.
Like all the things, moderation is where I’ll always recommend you keep your coffee intake.
How much can I drink?
This can depend on what exactly you’re drinking.
I generally recommend keeping caffeine to a maximum of 400 mg per day. That’s, approximately, 4 cups of coffee. But keep in mind that one cup of coffee is roughly 250 mL, not a very large mug. So if you’re making it at home, and drinking one cup, you’ll have about 100 mg of caffeine.
If you’re a Starbucks fan, it tends to be higher on the caffeine. A tall brewed coffee at Starbucks has 235 mg of caffeine. A grande has 310 mg. So if you’re a regular at Starbucks, you might only be able to get away with 1 coffee in a day.
At Tim Hortons, a medium brewed coffee has about 200 mg of caffeine.
And at McDonald’s, you’ll find their large coffee has 180 mg of caffeine.
(If you’re more a fan of espresso, one shot has about 75 mg of caffeine.)
What about other types of caffeine?
Coffee is not the only spot you’re going to find caffeine. Even decaf coffee has some (not much, about 15 mg).
Tea also has caffeine, although generally not as much as coffee. Black tea has about half the caffeine of coffee. So a grande steeped tea from Starbucks might have 120 mg of caffeine. But it will depend on how long you let your tea steep.
Green tea has about 30 mg of caffeine per 250 mL.
Herbal teas are caffeine-free, so you can enjoy those all day long!
Pop (soda if you’re in the US) does have caffeine too, but not a lot. A can of Coke has 34 mg of caffeine. Caffeine is not your limiting factor in pop – that is sugar!
Like everything, coffee is not good or bad, it just is! In moderation, it’s not only not harmful, it can actually be beneficial. But too much of it can be detrimental to your health, add to your body’s stress response (even if it feels good) and interfere with your sleep.
So enjoy that cup or two of coffee in the morning, cut it off by about 12 PM, and switch to something like decaf coffee or herbal tea in the afternoon if you still want to sip on something warm.
If you’ve already cut back on your coffee intake, but you’re still having problems falling asleep, you might find this blog post helpful, or you can watch this YouTube video!