Caffeine - for the most part we’re guilty of drinking it. According to the British Coffee Association, in the UK, approximately 95 million cups of coffee are drunk per day, with tea taking the lead at around 100 million cups a day, according to the UK Tea & Infusions Association.
With around 67 million people in the UK, these figures clearly suggest people drink more than 1 cup of hot caffeinated beverage per day - and let’s not forget about the hot caffeinated drinks counterpart, with drinks like coca-cola consumed globally.
It’s clear we have no problem with putting these caffeinated drinks into our bodies, but what exactly does caffeine do to our bodies and how does it affect our sleep?
Where does caffeine originate?
Caffeine is most commonly found in the coffee bean, which can be traced back to the 11th century in Ethiopia. Believe it or not, but coffee began to replace the traditional breakfast drinks, beer and wine, in Europe in the 17th century - imagine tucking into a glass of wine with your breakfast cereal now? Today, the world’s leading coffee producers are: Brazil, Vietnam, Colombia, Indonesia, and Ethiopia.
Though, we mustn't forget that caffeine is also found in tea, which us Brits have been drinking for over 300 years and have claimed as our local delicacy. Yet, tea goes back much further than this. According to the UK Tea & Infusions Association, tea was accidentally stumbled upon in 2737 BC in China after a leaf from a tree fell into some boiling water - proof that accidents can be good.
What does caffeine do?
Caffeine acts as a mild stimulant for the human body, which can result in increased alertness, hence why caffeine is most commonly consumed in the morning so that people feel awake enough to tackle their day ahead.
Though this comes in handy when lack of sleep is an issue and busy days are a commonality, consuming too much caffeine can have negative effects on your health and should not act as a substitute for a good night's sleep on your OTTY mattress.
According to the sleep foundation, 3 cups of coffee per day is considered as moderate consumption, whereas 6 or more cups are considered as excessive. Once consumed, caffeine can take around 6 hours to leave the body, thus meaning you should avoid caffeine in the evening as it can actually cause insomnia.
Coffee Before Bed?
Coffee actually blocks sleep-inducing chemicals in the brain, meaning that if you drink caffeine throughout the day, and particularly, late at night, you might find yourself struggling to get to sleep and actually obtaining good quality sleep when you do get to sleep.
Does caffeine have other health effects?
Though caffeine is most commonly consumed to reduce feelings of tiredness, it can have other side effects when consumed excessively, which include:
- Reduced coordination
- Rapid heartbeat
- Excessive urination
- Sleep disturbance
Everybody can experience different symptoms when it comes to caffeine consumption so it’s important that you become aware of your body’s natural reactions - for example, if you find that for the most part, caffeine gives you a rapid heartbeat, it would be advisable to reduce consumption.
How to enjoy caffeine and get good sleep
If you enjoy a cup of coffee or tea occasionally throughout the day then not to worry, you can still enjoy your hot beverage of choice and get a good night's sleep. All you have to do is limit yourself to less than 5 cups of coffee/tea per day and avoid drinking caffeinated products in the evening. Though, it’s important to bare in mind your natural reactions to coffee - for some, 1 or 2 cups of coffee could be enough to impact your sleep, whereas others may be able to drink more.
When it comes to bed time, there are a variety of things you can do to facilitate your sleep, including; avoiding caffeinated and alcoholic beverages, reducing exposure to artificial light e.g. mobile phones, and unwinding in a relaxing environment, such as in a dim lit bedroom with comfortable surroundings, like an OTTY mattress.