What is the Connection Between Caffeine and Sleep?

Article Details
  • Written By: A. Garrett
  • Edited By: John Allen
  • Last Modified Date: 07 October 2018
  • Copyright Protected:
    Conjecture Corporation
  • Print this Article

Caffeine improves alertness, but disrupts sleeping patterns because of its analeptic, or stimulative, properties. Consequently, caffeine and sleep are incompatible. Such stimulants work by inhibiting adenosine, a bodily chemical that causes fatigue and drowsiness. Alerting agents like caffeine have been proven to have positive effects on hand-eye coordination, reaction time, and even mood. A common side effect of caffeine consumption is difficulty falling asleep.

Caffeine is found naturally in cocoa beans, tea leaves, and coffee beans. Physical activity or prolonged waking hours prompts your body to release a chemical substance known as adenosine to promote sleepiness. The effects of caffeine can be felt 30 to 69 minutes following consumption and can last 3 to 5 hours by blocking the adenosine. Due to the sleep problems that may be caused by the hindrance of caffeine on adenosine reception, caffeine and sleep are not conducive to each other.

Most products comprised of caffeine contain 50 to 200 milligrams (mg). At these doses, caffeine contributes to mental acuity, boosts energy, and can even contribute to feelings of happiness or euphoria. Coffee is the primary means of caffeine consumption. Too much coffee can release 500 mg or more of caffeine into the blood stream and cause heavy sweating, upset stomach, and an increased heart rate.


The sleeping disorders that too much caffeine consumption may result in are more reasons why caffeine and sleep are incongruent. Caffeine interferes with many important aspects of the sleeping experience, especially if it is consumed 4 to 6 hours before bedtime. Slow wave sleep, a period of sleep where mental function is restored and memories are reinforced, is reduced when caffeine is consumed and causes feelings of grogginess and impaired mental focus. Sleep duration is also negatively impacted by caffeine. Since caffeine lasts in the body for several hours, its effects can wake a person up from his or her sleep.

Consuming too much caffeine may also cause the development of a psychiatric disorder known as caffeine-induced sleep disorder. This condition is diagnosed when a patient’s ability to sleep is entirely the result of the overconsumption of caffeine. Side effects of this disorder include irritability and a decline in motor skills.

There are ways to mitigate the effects of caffeine so that caffeine and sleep are not clashing. Limiting caffeine intake to no more than 300 mg can reduce long term affects. People suffering from sleeping disorders related to insomnia should avoid caffeine altogether. Finally, avoiding caffeine in the afternoon or at night will prevent the stimulant’s efficacy from interfering with sleep.



Discuss this Article

Post your comments

Post Anonymously


forgot password?