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  • Writer's pictureSleep Well Blog

How does caffeine affect sleep?

Updated: Jan 9

For some reason, a classic Folgers jingle keeps playing in my mind as I write this blog post. You know... I'm talking about the one that goes "the best part of waking up is Folgers in your cup." Now, of course, some people will probably take issue with the Folgers part. However, substitute Folgers for your favourite coffee, and I believe many people would agree with the sentiment. In fact, many might even say that coffee is the only way that they can manage in the mornings.

The fact is that many people do not have the easiest time waking up, and these people are likely night owls.

However, what exactly is it that coffee -- or caffeine -- does to help you get through the morning, and how does it affect your sleep at night?

Here are some major points to help you understand the relationship:

  • The caffeine in coffee is a stimulant and the most popular drug in the world.

  • Caffeine binds to adenosine receptors.

  • Adenosine is a neurotransmitter that plays an important role in the sleep-wake cycle; in particular, it is believed that the build up of adenosine in the body during the day promotes sleep.

  • The brain uses adenosine triphosphate (ATP) during the day, and the byproduct of its use is adenosine.

  • When caffeine binds to adenosine receptors, it takes the place of much of the accumulated adenosine, such that you do not feel the latter's sleep-promoting effects.

To learn more about how caffeine influences sleep and when to drink coffee so that you can sleep well, watch our YouTube video.

Besides coffee, here are other common sources of caffeine:

  • Tea

  • Yerbe mate

  • Kombucha

  • Hot chocolate or cocoa

  • Soft drinks

  • Energy drinks

  • Caffeinated energy bars

For a table of common caffeine sources, click here.

Coffee is part of the morning ritual and, for good sleep hygiene, it's best to keep that cup limited to the morning, especially if you are sensitive to caffeine.


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