Let’s talk about Caffeine

Coffee cups

Anyone who knows me will know I looove coffee. Strong and black and sweet.

It’s my “treat”. I use it to wake up. I use it to concentrate or when I’m having a break! I use it when I want chocolate. Or when my kids have wound me up. I’ll regularly have 5-6 shots in a day. more if we’re doing homeschooling!!😲

Or used to, I should say…

I also have really shitty sleep. I fall asleep well enough, most days. But I don’t get restful sleep. I’ll often awake around 2-4am and not be able to get back to sleep. Or I’ll spend 2-4 hours drifting in between sleep and wake. Not quite awake but not really asleep either.

Or used to, I should say…

Because over the last 6 weeks, I’ve ditched the caffeine. And now I’m getting

SUCH

GOOD

SLEEP…

Let’s face it, the link between caffeine and sleep isn’t new. We all know that caffeine is bad for sleep. But while researching for the Menopause course I’m writing, I spent some time delving into sleep and caffeine. And I got the chance to hone up on the science.

I thought I was doing OK. I always stopped drinking caffeine by around 3pm. So I never linked my coffee habit with my bad sleep. Also I never struggled to fall asleep. So I thought I was something else… Like Menopause..

But no, it was the caffeine. I feel pretty silly now for not twigging onto this earlier.

What You Need to Know

Now I’ll go into this in more detail in the actual course but for now, you need to know these facts:

  • The half-life of caffeine is about 6 hours. (Definition: the half-life is how long it takes for your system to clear 50% of the toxin you are tracking. So, in this caffeine.
  • So think about that coffee you had at 3pm: you still have 50% of the caffeine floating around you at 9pm, and 25% of it at 3am.
  • In fact, you will still have 25% of the caffeine from your 9am coffee floating around you at 9pm.
  • So if you have 4, 5 or 6 coffees in a day, you can imagine the cumulative effect of the caffeine. Even if you stop drinking caffeine at 3pm… It not enough time to clear the decks.

The other thing to note is that 6 hours is an estimate. In experiments, scientists found that the half-life could be up to 9.5 hours. And they also found that the more you drink coffee, the more tolerant you are to it. So your body isn’t going to be in a great big rush to get rid of it. So your half-life is likely to be greater the more you’ve been abusing it!

I think you can guess where I’m going with this. If you’re struggling to get quality sleep: ditch the caffeine. Seriously it works.

And don’t forget caffeine occurs not just in coffee but in teas, chocolate, energy drinks, and fizzy drinks too. It’s even in some medicines and cold and flu remedies.

I’ve switched to decaff as my default. I think I might occasionally grab a regular I need an actual boost, like if I’m driving a long way or something similar. But genuinely I find it has made absolutely no difference to my “mental alertness”. Especially if I’ve got a good night’s sleep! That’s made all of the difference.

And one more thing: don’t ditch it for a day and expect miracles. You need to stick with this for a while. Weeks maybe. Give it time!