Caffeine Recommendations and Sleep

May 24, 2021

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Photo Courtesy: Getty Images

How much is too much?  

As the semester comes to a close and we all start to recover from finals, and start our summer jobs or classes, it may be tempting to start buying extra coffees or energy drinks throughout the day to power through all of those long study sessions. Whether you prefer to do work during the day or late at night, having that extra boost of caffeine is so helpful is getting a lot of work done in a shorter amount of time. But I’m sure that during the end of the semester, you might start seeing changes in your sleep cycles; it may be more difficult to fall asleep. Although the added stress of the end of the semester can play a role in this, it may actually be the extra caffeine that is preventing you from getting a good night of sleep.  

So, having struggled with this before and not wanting to deal with it this time around; I decided to do some research to answer the question: how much caffeine is too much?  

After doing lots of research from credible sources like Mayo Clinic, journal articles, and even Harvard Public Health; I (unfortunately) can only conclude that there is no “limit” on the amount of caffeine to drink before it starts to impact your sleep.  

The truth is, the amount that will affect your sleep is different for everyone.  

In lieu of finding a specific caffeine intake recommendation, I was able to find some tips and tricks to follow in order to reduce the negative impact on your sleep! Check them out below.  

  • Start small: In a standard cup of coffee, there are about 100 milligrams of caffeine. If you are sensitive to caffeine (like you get a racing heart, shakes, and sweaty when you drink coffee), try starting small. Have one cup at a time and build up from there to see how much is too much. It is crucial to keep in mind that the USDA recommends consuming no more than 400 milligrams of caffeine (4 cups of coffee) at one time regardless of how it affects you.  

  • Start early: Try drinking your caffeinated beverages early in the day. This is going to give your body the time necessary to process all of that caffeine long before it is time to shut down and go to bed.  

  • Listen to your body: Just like everything else, moderation is key. If you find yourself constantly needing caffeine to function throughout the day, it is time to start listening to your body. Maybe you are running in overdrive and you just need to slow down and rest. There is nothing wrong with having some caffeine to put a little extra pep in your step on busy days, but it is another story if you are using it to get through your standard daily activities.  

Most importantly, talk to your doctor if you are concerned with your sleep cycle and caffeine consumption. The doctors at Health & Wellness are a great resource. Make an appointment here or by calling (603) 862-9355. I know how stressful finals and the end of the semester can be, but getting sleep is still so important during this busy time. We will get through this together, Wildcats!  

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