It is one of the most popular drinks, and for many people, it is simply part of the wake-up morning ritual – coffee. Whether hot or cold, there are almost no limits to what caffeine junkies can do with their brew. However, if you still want to sleep well at night, you should be careful because the caffeine it contains can cause problems falling asleep or sleeping through the night.
According to Sandra Holasek from Med Uni Graz, this is due to special receptors: “Caffeine docks on adenosine receptors and thus blocks drowsiness,” explains the nutrition scientist. These receptors play an important role in the central nervous system and in regulating cardiovascular functions and immune responses.
It’s all in the genes.
According to Holasek, whether sleep disturbances occur depends highly on the dose. “That’s why there’s also the recommendation of a maximum of six cups a day, so that you don’t develop problems falling asleep and staying asleep.” However, how much caffeine someone tolerates is very individual and depends on each person’s genetic makeup: “You can test it out quite well for yourself, because you can feel it very well, how your body reacts to it.”
In principle, caffeinated drinks can also be consumed later in the day: “But it’s quite clear that you feel delays in falling asleep in later phases of the day.” The result can be restlessness at night, more frequent awakenings and shortened deep sleep phases. “One is then, of course very tired the next day and feels that the recovery phase was not possible accordingly.”
According to the expert, caffeine has a certain effect on our internal clock. “We see that the consumption of caffeine brings the body into a strong state of wakefulness.” Normally, this is very dependent on light, according to Holasek. “When we open our eyes in the morning, daylight reduces the hormone melatonin.” This makes us more alert, and the level of the so-called sleep hormone steadily decreases. The reduction of the hormone can be spurred by caffeine: “Coffee has about half the effect of daylight. So coffee in the morning can be very supportive in getting into the waking phase,” says the nutritionist.
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