Nothing is better than the quick energy boost you get from an afternoon cup of coffee to help you get through the rest of your day. But what if you overdo it, drinking caffeine into the early evening hours?
You can induce sleep after drinking too much caffeine by engaging in a short meditation, avoiding electronics and other stimulating activities, relaxing with a book or a bath, or supplementing your body’s natural melatonin production.
If you are lying in bed wondering if you are ever going to fall asleep after drinking too much caffeine, then you have come to the right place. Continue reading to learn about how caffeine affects our brains, several ways to help you fall asleep after consuming it too much, and some preventative measures.
Why Does Caffeine Keep Me Awake?
Melatonin, also known as our natural sleep hormone, is produced by our brains in response to darkness. It is what keeps our natural circadian rhythms normal and helps us fall asleep each night. Neurotransmitters control melatonin production in our brain, which gets interrupted by caffeine. This is a component of the internal process which is keeping you up after too much caffeine.
Another component is that caffeine increases your heart rate and your blood pressure. Put simply; caffeine is a natural drug that is classified as a stimulant. It makes us feel alert, focused, and maybe even jittery. These are the responses we enjoy about coffee because they make us feel ready to take on the day. However, when you drink too much caffeine or have it too late in the day, these things make it difficult to fall asleep.
Common myths about meditation deter some people from practicing who might actually benefit greatly. There are misconceptions that it requires a lot of time, that it takes a lot of practice to reap any rewards, and that it is a specifically religious or spiritual experience, none of which are true.
Meditation is a simple technique widely used globally by people aiming to relax, calm their thoughts, and bring inner peace to the practitioner. It has also been clinically proven to enhance the quality of sleep.
A 2015 study put participants in one of two randomized groups, one assigned to practice meditation and another to take a sleep education course. They found that the group engaging in meditation reported less insomnia and fatigue at the end of six sessions.
Research has also linked meditation to the production of higher levels of melatonin. In 2000, a clinical trial discovered that melatonin levels are higher immediately after meditation than on nights with no meditation.
All of this information can help us conclude that meditation is a practical and proven way to induce a sleep hormone after drinking too much caffeine. If you are interested in giving this a try, watch this guided sleep meditation by The Honest Guys to lull you into a peaceful slumber:
Minimize Use of Electronics Before Bed
If you are having trouble falling asleep due to too much caffeine, you may be passing the time by reading this article on your phone or watching late-night TV. While it might feel like the easy and natural thing to do, these activities are actually making it even more difficult for your body to develop that natural sleep hormone.
Our televisions and cell phones produce what is known as blue light, which refers to the shorter wavelengths of this type of light. While blue light has some benefits – such as increasing alertness and response times – it also can be detrimental to your sleep. Harvard researchers determined that blue light suppresses melatonin production for twice as long as people did not look at blue light.
A better alternative to scrolling on your phone or watching TV is to read a book or magazine. Most smartphones and TVs have filters that reduce your exposure to blue light if you are not sold on reading.
We all know how difficult it is to go to sleep if you are anxious or stressed, so relaxation is key to a good night’s rest. Even when you have had too much caffeine, trying to transition into a more relaxed state will increase the likelihood of inducing sleep.
Take a Warm Bath or Shower
A meta-analysis of 17 research studies looking at how a warm bath or shower (40-42 ℃ or 104-109 ℉) affects sleep yielded some very interesting results. They determined that taking a warm bath or shower at bedtime increased several key components of sleep.
First, participants who took a warm bath before bedtime reported higher sleep quality and sleep efficiency rates. Second, they concluded that a warm bath could reduce your time trying to fall asleep by ten minutes.
Read a Book
Researches from Sussex University in the United Kingdom found that reading was the number one way to reduce stress, beating out listening to music, going for a walk, drinking a hot cup of tea, and playing video games. Participants in their studies were more than two-thirds relaxed after just six minutes of reading.
Their findings stress the value of reading, especially highlighting how helpful it can be before bedtime. If you are struggling to sleep because you drank too much caffeine, diving into a good book will help you relax. It works by creating a distraction, engaging your imagination, and it can even induce an altered state of consciousness.
Beyond all of the suggestions for inducing sleep after too much caffeine, there are several ways you can prevent this from happening again in the future. By being proactive about your bedtime routine and caffeine consumption, you can fall asleep like a baby each night. Here are a few options to consider.
- Limit caffeine consumption after a certain time. We experience the effects of caffeine differently, but some specific factors such as pregnancy or smoking can slow down or speed up how your body metabolizes caffeine. Regardless, it is important to eliminate caffeine after a certain time of day. It will vary for everyone. You could also switch to decaf coffee or tea at this point if you prefer to sip on a hot beverage throughout the day.
- Avoid caffeine in late-night snacks such as chocolate or tea. Caffeine can sneak into some of our late-night snacks, with chocolate as the most common offender. If you can’t do without your nighttime sweets, white chocolate is a good caffeine-free alternative.
- Develop a daily bedtime routine. Keeping your internal clocks on a regular schedule (yes, even on the weekends) helps us fall asleep and wake more easily. Establish a routine and stick to it nightly, whether it’s a bath or reading for 30 minutes. Your routine can be whatever you want, but it must induce a relaxed state using one of the methods mentioned above.
Many of us rely on caffeine daily. It helps us start each day off on the right foot, making us alert and energized. Unfortunately, we occasionally overdo it, and it takes a toll on our sleeping patterns.
If you find that you drank too much caffeine, there are a few things you can do to help yourself fall asleep. You could do a guided meditation or several minutes of intentional breathing. You could also induce sleepiness by relaxing with a book or a bath. To avoid further stimulation, minimize exposure to blue light and stop drinking caffeine around lunchtime.
- Harvard Medical School: Mindfulness Meditation Helps Fight Insomnia, Improves Sleep
- JAMA Network: Mindfulness Meditation and Improvement in Sleep Quality and Daytime Impairment Among Older Adults With Sleep Disturbances
- PubMed: Acute Increases in Night-Time Plasma Melatonin Levels Following a Period of Meditation
- Chopra: 7 Myths of Meditation
- Harvard Medical School: Blue Light Has a Dark Side
- Web MD: What is Blue Light
- The Argus: Reading Can Help Reduce Stress, According to University of Sussex research
- Science Direct: Before-bedtime Passive Body Heating by Warm Shower or Bath to Improve Sleep: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis
- Harvard; Health Sleep: Adopt Good Sleep Habits
- Sleep Foundation: Caffeine and Sleep
- Sleep Education: Sleep and Caffeine
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