I looove coffee! ☕❤️ I would drink it all day if I could figure out a way to fall asleep after drinking coffee, especially at night.
If you can’t sleep after drinking coffee, you can try going for a walk, reading a book, or taking a warm, relaxing bath.
How does coffee keep you awake 👀☕
The caffeine in coffee is what keeps you awake after drinking it.
Caffeine's effect on the sleep cycle can be pretty disruptive. The most apparent effect is that it can make falling asleep difficult.
In fact, a study revealed that coffee can also make your body clock go out of sync. You'll be able to sleep for fewer hours overall as a result of these negative effects.
In a 49-day study, it was discovered that coffee caused a 40-minute phase delay in people’s circadian melatonin rhythm. This is calculated using the amount of caffeine in a double espresso that is ingested three hours before one goes to bed at night.
Oof! This 40-minute phase delay does not require you to extend your bedtime by that time frame. Sleep is more difficult than you may imagine!
This means it could take you another 2-3 hours to sleep!
Drinking coffee has always been the go-to for people who need to delay their sleepiness. It works well thanks to caffeine. It is the neuro-stimulant responsible for enhanced performance, alertness, and concentration.
Caffeine is a stimulant, which means it stimulates the brain and nervous system. Coffee can increase the circulation of chemicals in the body such as cortisol and adrenaline.
Coffee and other caffeinated drink can make you feel refreshed and focused. As long as you keep your consumption to tiny amounts in the hours leading up to bedtime 🤏
Caffeine is an adenosine-receptor antagonist that is effective in suppressing drowsiness. It blocks the receptors of Adenosine, which promotes sleep as it accumulates during the time we stay awake.
Does decaf coffee affect sleep?
If you’re thinking of switching to decaf, I have some bad news for you. Decaffeinated coffee could still affect your sleep.
It should make sense to switch to decaf to avoid consuming too much caffeine though.
Decaf claims to have very little to no caffeine in it. However, you can still catch “zzz’s”.
It might just get you turning around in your bed as badly as if you’d had a regular cup of joe. Some even suspect that decaf coffee is bad for your kidneys.
The first thing you need to know is that decaf doesn’t mean zero coffee. WHAT?! 🤯
Decaffeination removes roughly 97% of the caffeine in coffee beans. A typical cup of decaf coffee contains approximately 2 mg of caffeine. This is still much less than the 95 mg of caffeine in your regular cup of coffee.
Since caffeine is a stimulant, the remaining 3% of caffeine will still make you feel awake when you drink it.
Argh! That’s such a bummer!
In general, it takes your body 4 to 6 hours to metabolize half of what you've consumed. This would mean that a cup of coffee —yup, even decaf— especially at dinnertime, can cause delayed sleep.
Can coffee in the morning 🌞 affect sleep at night? 😴🌙
Your morning coffee can still affect your sleep in the evening.
Now this one is WILD! 🤯
Consuming coffee and other caffeine-infused food items in the morning can boost cognitive functions for the whole day. This should just be enough to keep you plowing on and should not affect sleep at night.
But research says otherwise.
A particular study has shown that 400 mg of caffeine can significantly disrupt sleep. This is whether it is taken less than 3 hours before —or even as far as 6 hours before bedtime.
This level of sleep deprivation, if sustained over several nights, may harm how you function during the day.
The effects of caffeine in coffee can last 3 to 7 hours, but it may take up to 24 hours for caffeine to be completely gone from the body.
And it’s not just having difficulty falling sleeping. Caffeine has several effects on sleep including experiencing lighter sleep. This means you’ll wake up more often too.
This means that you still need to be aware of your body’s caffeine sensitivity and keep an eye on your coffee dose and how frequently you consume caffeine-based food and drinks.
How long will coffee keep me awake? 👀
Caffeine can keep you awake for more than 6 hours.
Around 2 to 12 hours are needed for the body to process and absorb half of the caffeine in a cup of coffee.
So, when you drink coffee, you may start feeling its effects after the first 30 minutes. Then the boost in alertness and performance lasts for about 6 hours, or sometimes even longer.
This wide range implies that other factors will likely influence how long coffee will actually keep you up.
These factors include the following:
- your caffeine tolerance
- the amount of physical activity you’ve done
- your genetic makeup
The CYP1A2 gene produces the CYP1A2 enzyme, which is involved in caffeine metabolism in the liver. A single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) in this gene plays a significant role in determining how quickly a person metabolizes caffeine.
Okay, that one was pretty technical.
You might be able to consume coffee and yet be able to sleep soundly depending on these factors. Or you might be looking for countless ways to stop caffeine from putting you to sleep.
How to fall asleep after drinking coffee 🥱💤
If you’re like me and can’t keep yourself from drinking coffee then you must want to know how to sleep with caffeine in your system.
Check out these tips below 👇
1. Take a walk or do some light exercise 🤾♀️
Light physical activities help expend the extra energy you get from drinking coffee.
There is much evidence that regular physical activity during the day can help you sleep better at night.
Here are some of the ways walking and exercise help with sleep:
- Even moderate exercise reduces caffeine's effect by at least 50%.
The effects of moderate exercise on caffeine pharmacokinetics. So, in a nutshell, exercise does speed up caffeine elimination.
- Tiring the body out is an excellent way to eventually achieve sleepiness.
- Exercise results in a rise and fall in your body temperature which is pretty great with sleep.
When you exercise, your body temperature rises. When it starts to drop again, sleep is induced. As a result, light exercise, such as an evening walk, can help you fall asleep faster.
- Exercise increases the effectiveness of natural sleep hormones like melatonin.
Going for a brisk daily walk will not only slim you down, but will also keep you awake less frequently at night.
Simply increasing your daily steps can be enough to help you sleep better. You can even check out this simple yoga for sleep:
You can try adding a 20-minute walk to your lunch break at work. Or why not walk your dog for an extra block or two after having Americano following dinner?
2. Taking a warm bath or shower 🛀
Taking a warm bath or hot shower an hour or two before bedtime can help you fall asleep faster.
Several studies suggest soaking up the body with warm water before bed can help you sleep a few minutes quicker. Bathing with hot water changes your body's core temperature.
I never knew this, but hot baths allow you to sleep at a lower temperature. Weird, huh? And here I thought I’d end up in a pool of sweat.
You might be wondering: “What does your body temperature have to do with how to fall asleep with caffeine in your system?” Well, lowering your core temperature can act like a poke to start your circadian rhythm.
Experts are saying that enjoying warm baths and hot showers 90 minutes before bed can help you fall asleep like a baby.
I’m liking the idea of taking a hot bath. 🧖♀️
3. Reading a book 📖
Experts will tell you that reading even just a few chapters of your favorite book before bed can help you sleep for more extended periods.
Reading helps to transport your consciousness to a whole other place. This alone can help induce sleep. I mean a fantasy story can transport you to a fictional world, relieving tension and allowing you to unwind.
The real world can be —phew— stressful!
But even if your favorite read is non-fiction, books can still do their magic.
Reading your favorite book will play its part in tiring your eyes. Of course, with all the moving around from word to word and paragraph to paragraph.
Reading allows you to exercise your brain without engaging in any physical activity. This means that instead of working yourself to sleep, you naturally relax and fall asleep. Devouring all those pages can de-stimulate your brain and lower stress levels.
Doing some bedside reading before catching some Zs can improve sleep quality.
156 research respondents felt their sleep quality improved after reading was part of the bedtime routine. These respondents were part of an intervention group who are reading a book in bed. That is 42% of the research population.
This is compared to the other 112 people in the comparator group who are not reading a book in bed. That makes 28% of the respondents with a 14% difference in favor of the intervention group.
4. Avoiding screen time 📱
Constant buzzing and pings on your phone or device will just stimulate your caffeine-stimulated brain even more.
Blue light exposure has been shown in studies to hurt sleep. Blue light especially from electronics just gets you further away from sleepiness.
Not to mention, if you’re scrolling through social media, you’ll just get hooked. Imagine all those tweets!
Now, what about reading a book on my e-reader? Reading helps you sleep, right? Err, wrong!
Researchers discovered in a 2015 study that using e-readers before bedtime increases the time it takes to fall asleep and decreases alertness the following day.
Oh well, we’re better off setting aside our devices first —far away from our bed. Then we can go off to dreamland faster. Hello, sandman!
Aside from changing your routine or adding these steps to your nighttime routine, you can also make some changes to your sleeping environment.
Here are a few things you can do.
5. Listening to white noise or relaxing music 🎧
Putting relaxing music at low volumes can greatly improve the quality of sleep you get.
Some studies discuss how music therapy aids sleep. You can even tune in to podcasts and ASMR videos if that’s what soothes your senses more.
Listening to calming music can improve your sleep by slowing your heart rate and breathing. It also lowers your blood pressure.
The brainstem, which also controls the rate of your heartbeat and respiration, is where sound processing begins. This is why relaxing music appears to reduce heart rate, breathing rate, and blood pressure. It also helps bring down pain, stress, and anxiety.
And we can associate low blood pressure with being relaxed and calm. When our stress and anxiety levels are reduced, it will be easier for us to sleep.
A slower tempo can calm your mind and relax your muscles, making you feel soothed and relieved of the day's stress. It’s pretty hard to fall asleep with all the noisy thoughts.
Music can help you relax and manage your stress resulting in better sleep.
6. Keep it cool…or colder ❄️
A cool sleeping environment helps to lower your body temperature, making deep sleep easier to achieve.
Have you ever noticed how after sleeping in a cold room, you usually feel more refreshed? This might be because lower temperatures promote melatonin production. And whenever our trusty melatonin friend is involved, it also means improved sleep quality. 💤
But this doesn’t mean you should turn your bedroom into a tundra. When it’s too cold, it may make falling asleep more difficult. Not to mention, it can have an impact on other aspects of your health.
For example, if you are too cold while sleeping, your body's cardiac autonomic response may be negatively altered.
The autonomic nervous system (ANS) regulates the cardiovascular system extensively. In the short term, it regulates heart rate and blood pressure to deal with everyday situations.
When your body is at the right temperature, you will find it easier to relax and shut down for the night at the right room temperature. Studies claim that somewhere around 60ºF to 67ºF is ideal for sleeping.
In that range of temperature, you might find yourself sleeping better. Not only that, but you might also find yourself falling asleep faster. You can skip counting sheep tonight.
7. Use the right light 🕯️
Set your lamp on a red light or turn your room pitch dark. The amount of light you are exposed to will tell your body if you need to be asleep or awake.
Light is important in regulating circadian rhythm, the body's internal clock that tells us when to be alert and when to sleep. Light also influences the production of melatonin, an important hormone that promotes sleep.
The hormone melatonin and the brain's suprachiasmatic nucleus, two key mechanisms for sleep cycle regulation, both rely on light to function. Daylight reduces our melatonin levels, making us feel more awake.
Make your room as dark as you possibly can. Remove any light sources, including electronic devices, lamps, and even that pesky little nightlight in the bathroom.
But if you can’t sleep in total darkness, you can cover up any bright lamps. If you have mood lights then probably set it to emit only red light for the time being.
According to the theory, red light wavelengths stimulate the production of melatonin. And as you’ve read earlier, the melatonin hormone is pretty much our best friend when it comes to good sleep.
Sometimes, improving the ambience isn’t enough. If this is the case, then you might need help with a few other things.
8. Take advantage of aromatherapy and essential oils
Making aromatherapy a part of your bedtime routine can help relax you enough to give you a good night's sleep.
Just as we can’t resist the smell of coffee, we can’t resist sleeping with relaxing scents.
Tons of studies link the use of essential oils and improved sleep quality. Aromatherapy is the use of essential oils for therapeutic purposes. Aromatherapy has been practiced for thousands of years.
Aromatherapy can cause the nervous system to send signals to the limbic system in the brain. That is the part of the brain responsible for emotion and memory.
You can even use the principle of aromatherapy to train your brain to sleep with a specific scent.
When essential oils are inhaled, the scent molecules travel directly from the olfactory nerves to the brain, focusing on the amygdala, the brain's emotional centre.
Aromatherapy lavender oil is a popular choice for sleep and relaxation. Several studies show that using lavender oil for aromatherapy can improve sleep quality, especially in people who suffer from insomnia, depression, or anxiety.
Lavender oil aromatherapy may also increase the amount of time spent in deep, slow-wave sleep.
9. Drink Water
Flushing out the caffeine in your system by drinking water also works quite well if you’re having trouble sleeping.
Caffeine is a diuretic, which means that it causes the loss of fluids in the body by making you pee a lot. This makes sense to help flush out too much caffeine in your system.
However, peeing a lot also means you could expect some thirst. So too much coffee will only make it uncomfortable for you to sleep. Try to hydrate yourself a bit before you attempt to sleep.
Also, dehydration would likely worsen jitters and palpitations which would get in the way of enjoying a good night’s sleep.
10. Try Sleep Supplements 💊
If you are already at a loss for how to fall asleep after caffeine, you might need to try supplements.
Our bodies naturally produce melatonin. But when everything else fails (meaning you gave in to a coffee craving you knew you shouldn’t have) you can get this helpful hormone from a pill.
You heard me right, the hormone that reminds your brain it’s time to get some shut-eye.
A melatonin’s life cycle is greatly influenced by the time of day. Its levels go down in the daytime and go up around nighttime.
For this reason, popular sleep aids contain melatonin. Multiple studies claim melatonin supplements have significantly improved sleep quality. Those with disrupted sleeping schedules or even those who suffer from sleep disorders swear by it.
However, pregnant or nursing individuals might need not rely on melatonin supplements too much, as there are limited studies available concerning safety for this particular demographic.
11. Try Herbal Tea or pick a particular kind of coffee ☕
If you’re not too keen on drinking water, maybe warm herbal tea is more your thing. Chamomile tea is a good example.
It has a floral flavor and soothing scent, but its greatest selling point is its sedative effects that have been proven to aid sleep.
But flavors like lavender are also famous among people interested in getting better sleep. All you need is lavender syrup for coffee to make yourself a delicious but relaxing cup.
There are also talks of valerian root. (Nope, this is not about Danaerys and her dragons.)
Valerian root is said to be far more effective than melatonin supplements. It could be an effective key how to counteract caffeine insomnia.
How late can you drink coffee and still sleep?
You can stick to the 2–3 p.m. mark for your last cup of coffee for the day.
Experts recommend a caffeine cutoff window, especially if you start winding down for bed around 9 p.m. But, in the end, there's probably no one-size-fits-all rule for when it's too late to consume caffeine.
I mean it would also depend on what time you consider bedtime right?
Coffee consumed too close to bedtime, such as with dinner, can cause sleep disturbances. It makes me wonder “why do people drink coffee after dinner?” Well, for one, some people could be trying to lose weight with the help of coffee.
Whatever your reasons, it helps to know that caffeine should be avoided for at least 6 hours before bedtime to avoid its disruptive effects on sleep.
Can caffeine in the morning affect sleep at night?
It is less likely that the coffee you consumed for breakfast will affect your sleep more than 12 hours later. This is unless you are hypersensitive to the effects of caffeine or some other possible factors.
A morning cup of joe should be harmless to your natural sleep cycle. You must be wondering: “Can one cup of coffee in the morning affect sleep.” It shouldn’t matter, should it?
Although there is one research that mentions how caffeine consumed within the day has an impact on sleep. It may not be how easy you can go to dreamland, but rather how well your trip to dreamland will be.
I am talking about how deep the sleep will be and how long it will be for you.
As mentioned in earlier sections, there’s a possibility that although there aren’t any noticeable effects, your caffeine fix could impact the quality of your sleep.
How long does caffeine affect sleep?
Even after six hours of consuming a caffeinated beverage, half of the caffeine will remain in your body.
It keeps you alert. But also restless and sleepless.
And, if it's bedtime, it's keeping you awake.
To reiterate, caffeine has the potential to disrupt your sleep. The most obvious effect of the stimulant is that it can make falling asleep difficult.
The caffeine in coffee can also cause your body clock to be delayed. These side effects will unfortunately shorten your total sleep time.
What amount of caffeine affects sleep?
Even just 100mg of coffee can affect your sleep. As I mentioned in an earlier section, even decaf could still impact how easily you can snooze as well as the quality of sleep.
To avoid caffeine affecting your sleep, take special note of your caffeine consumption in the 1-2 hours before bed. A 100mg dose around bedtime reduces the ability to fall and stay asleep.
According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, 400mg is the recommended daily limit for the average healthy adult. Drinking coffee 6 hours close to your bedtime is going to mess with your beauty sleep.
Over this limit, consuming coffee and other caffeine-infused food and drinks will negatively affect your sleep schedule and quality. and even your daytime functions.
Sleeping after drinking coffee
Caffeine can reduce sleep by more than an hour. And this is even after 6 hours of drinking it.
Knowing this, you can try to go for a walk, drink lots of water, or take a warm bath. Any of these can help you out with getting that much-needed zizz.
Which of the items on the list do you want to try out at home? Let us know in the comments below! 👇