Caffeine Consumed Hours before Bedtime Can Cost You an Hour of Sleep

In our post “Want Better Sleep? 10 Things You Can Do to Sleep Better Tonight,” we mentioned that drinking or eating caffeine in the evening can affect your sleep. However, a new study shows that caffeine can dramatically affect your sleep for many hours after consumption.

Secret Caffeine Doses

For this sleep study, published in the journal Sleep, researchers wanted to gauge the effect of caffeine on a night’s sleep without informing subjects about when they had consumed caffeine. All 12 subjects were healthy sleepers.

To accomplish this, researchers gave subjects three pills labeled only by the time when they were supposed to be consumed, either six hours, three hours, or zero hours before going to bed. One of the pills contained 400 mg of caffeine (equivalent to about 20 ounces of Starbucks coffee or 44 ounces of McDonald’s coffee), and the other two were placebos. In order to study the undisturbed sleep pattern, one night all three pills were placebos.

Registering Sleep Disturbance

In order to record the amount of sleep disturbance people experienced, researchers used both subjective sleep journals and objective sleep monitors (though not full polysomnograms). The results showed that people experienced lower quality sleep whenever they took caffeine in the evening, even when it was six hours before bedtime. Subjects lost up to an hour of sleep, even though they didn’t report it in their sleep journals.

You May Not Be the Best Judge of Your Sleep Disturbance

This study shows that people’s caffeine habits may be affecting them in ways they don’t know. One of the things that we know about sleep apnea is that people are not usually aware of the severity of their sleep disturbance. They may think they are getting good sleep and proper rest, but people around them know better.

If your partner is reporting that you are sleeping poorly, especially if you have symptoms like snoring that ends in choking, then it’s time to consider getting a sleep test to find out whether you have sleep apnea or not.

To learn more about getting a good night’s sleep, please contact the Advanced Dental Sleep Treatment Center in Omaha today for an appointment.