The Newest on Caffeine, Sleep and Alertness

Recent studies reveal how caffeine affects performance and sleep

You may have heard that drinking coffee, or any type of caffeinated beverage before bed, can disrupt your sleep cycle. In fact, a research study published back in 2013 states that caffeine taken 3 to 6 hours before bed significantly disrupts sleep by 1 hour or more, even if you aren’t aware of it. Lead author of the study and sleep specialist Christopher Drake suggested avoiding caffeine after 5 pm to get a good nights rest.

Drake’s study may still ring true for caffeine and sleep, but the question remains: does caffeine improve performance and alertness when there is lack of sleep? Hundreds of people such as late night studiers, workers, and drivers, turn to caffeine for this increase in performance and alertness, but is it really working? The most recent study done by, American Academy of Sleep Medicine, states that it does, but only for a period of time.

Research scientist and lead author, Tracy Jill Doty, took 48 participants in this study and gave them either, 200 mg of caffeine or a placebo, twice daily. The participants were restricted to 5 hours a sleep for five days. Findings showed that there was a performance advantage for the first two days, for those that took the caffeine, but after three days, caffeine no longer improved alertness and performance.

So there you have it! If you want to get a good nights rest, it is probably best to avoid caffeine after 5 pm. If you are in need of a “pick me up,” be aware that caffeine may be the answer for only the first couple of days, but once the third day hits and there has been consistent lack of sleep, caffeine can’t save you.

Sources: American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM)

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