Is caffeine overload keeping you awake?

SHARE Is caffeine overload keeping you awake?

Are you starting another day yawning and sleep-deprived, with cup of coffee in hand?

Before you start downing sleeping pills or signing up for a sleep study, look at the amount of caffeine you are indulging in daily.

Barely a week goes by where I do not read on my Facebook page posts from someone — written while the rest of us were snoozing — lamenting that he or she cannot sleep. If I am not reading about it, then others are telling me in person their personal sleep woes.

The first thing I ask is if they still drink a lot of coffee and other drinks with caffeine? The answer almost always is a surprised, well, yes.

Adults who cannot sleep through the night must look at their caffeine consumption. That means in coffee, cola drinks, tea. Energy drinks AND energy bars often have caffeine, too. I hate to say it, but chocolate has a bit of caffeine, too.

When you think about it, caffeine’s presence in our daily diets has grown so much in the last few decades. It used to be people would have a cup (and that’s the 8-ounce variety, BTW) in the morning and that was that for the day’s caffeine.

Now we’re drinking anywhere from 12- to 20-ounce cups, and not just in the morning. We take a break at work in the morning, and maybe in the afternoon and what do we do? Get a cup of coffee. We down a 20-ounce caffeinated soda with lunch. And eat an energy bar on the way to the gym.

Is it any wonder so many of us aren’t sleeping?

When I spoke with Dr. Timothy Morgenthaler, president of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, on a different topic a while back, we got to talking about adults who can’t get to or stay asleep. Morgenthaler, who’s also a professor of medicine at the Mayo Clinic, said adults who are having sleep problems should stop drinking caffeine right after lunch. He also said there are experts who recommend no caffeine after being awake for four hours for their patients with sleep problems.

As we age we also have to consider that getting and staying asleep can be challengea. It might be that when you were young you could handle a good amount of caffeine with no problem. But if you find yourself not being able to sleep, it’s time to think about cutting down (or out) caffeine.

— Sue Ontiveros

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