Coffee Taken Six Hours Before Bedtime Disrupts Sleep

First Posted: Nov 15, 2013 06:51 AM EST

Coffee is one such beverage whose health effects are debatable. Knowing the fact that Americans are big caffeine addicts, it is not only necessary to know how much to consume, but also when to drink coffee or caffeine-based products.

It is unimaginable to start the day without our daily shot of coffee. Caffeine keeps us active through the day. But if this drink is consumed at the wrong time, it can disrupt sleep.

According to latest study published in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine, caffeine consumption six hours before bedtime can have a significant and disruptive effect on sleep.  

"Sleep specialists have always suspected that caffeine can disrupt sleep long after it is consumed," American Academy of Sleep Medicine President M. Safwan Badr, MD, said in a statement. "This study provides objective evidence supporting the general recommendation that avoiding caffeine in the late afternoon and at night is beneficial for sleep."

The study was conducted on 12 healthy people. Researchers asked the participants to maintain their normal sleep schedules and were also given three pills that they had to take in a day. The pills had to be consumed for four days in which one was to be taken at six, three and zero hours before the scheduled bedtime. Out of the three pills, one had 400 mg caffeine and other two pills were placebo. One of the four days all the pills given were placebos. The researchers later measured the sleep disturbances with the help of a standard sleep diary and also by using a sleep monitor that placed at the subject's home.

The noticed that the 400mg caffeine taken at bedtime, three and even six hours before bedtime did disrupt sleep. Also, if caffeine was consumed six hours before going to bed, the measured total sleep dropped.

"Drinking a big cup of coffee on the way home from work can lead to negative effects on sleep just as if someone were to consume caffeine closer to bedtime," said lead author Christopher Drake, PhD, investigator at the Henry Ford Sleep Disorders. "People tend to be less likely to detect the disruptive effects of caffeine on sleep when taken in the afternoon," noted Drake, who also is on the board of directors of the Sleep Research Society.

Thus, the study shows that avoiding coffee after 5 p.m. can help a person sleep better.

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