Do you have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep at night? If so, caffeine could be keeping you awake even though you never consume it at night. That’s because caffeine has a longer-lasting effect than you may think.
Negative Health Effects of Insomnia
Caffeine disrupts deep (restorative) sleep and the ability to fall asleep which cuts down on total sleep time resulting in:
Increased mortality — According to a study by the American Cancer Society (Mortality Associated with Sleep Duration and Insomnia), insufficient sleep can shorten your life. Causes of death associated with sleep duration include heart disease, stroke, and breast/colon cancer.
Why Caffeine Has a Lasting Effect (Half-Life Explained)
Caffeine has a half life of five to six hours. In other words, it takes five to six hours for the amount of caffeine in your body to be reduced to exactly one-half of its concentration. (Translation: the amount of caffeine remaining in your body after six hours is equal to the amount you excrete.)
How It Breaks Down
The half-life of caffeine in a healthy adult is six hours. This does not take into consideration half-life variables (see below) that can influence how fast/slow a person metabolizes caffeine.
Due to the half-life of caffeine, caffeine starts accumulating in your body when you consume it throughout the day. This could be in the form of another drink, food, or even medication.
For example, if you drink two cups of coffee every day at 8:00 AM, by Day 3 at 2:00 AM nearly 45 gmof caffeine could still be in your system.
To compound the caffeinated effect, if you drink anothercup of coffee at 2:00 PM as an afternoon pick-me-up, by Day 3 at 2:00 AM, nearly 90 gmof caffeine could still be in your system. That’s nearly the amount of caffeine in a 16-oz Frappuccino® — a clue as to why you may not be able to sleep well.
Would you ever drink a cup of Starbucks® iced brewed coffee at 2:00 AM, then wonder why you can’t fall asleep? Well, you may as well be doing that if you start each day with a grande-size coffee streaming through your veins.
Here’s why… Caffeine has a lasting effect — a half life of five to six hours to be exact. In other words, it takes five to six hours for the amount of caffeine in your body to be reduced to exactly one-half of its concentration. (Translation: the amount of caffeine remaining in your body after six hours is equal to the amount you flush down the porcelain throne.)
See How It Breaks Down
Due to the half-life of caffeine and the amount of caffeine in one grande-size Starbucks® coffee, if you drank one every day at 8:00 AM, by Day 3 at 2:00 AM nearly 44 gmof caffeine could still be in your system. That’s equivalent to a 6-oz cup of Starbucks® iced brewed coffee. See how it’s calculated:“The Effects from Drinking One Starbucks® Grande Per Day for Three Days“.
Caffeine starts accumulating in your body when you consume caffeine throughout the day. This could be in the form of another drink, food or even medication.
If you drink a Starbucks® short (8-oz cup) at 2:00 PM every afternoon in addition to your 8:00 AM morning grande, by Day 3 at 2:00 AM, nearly 91 gmof caffeine could still be in your system. That’s equivalent to one 12-oz Starbucks® iced brewed coffee (a clue to why you may not be able to fall asleep during the week). See how it’s calculated: “The Effects from Drinking One Starbucks® Grande and One Short Per Day for Three Days“.
Question:I recently picked up some store-brand commercial coffee creamer and there seems to be a lot fewer long-worded ingredients in it compared to the popular name brand. Might it be safer?~ J.K., Hayward, CA
Answer:All in all, when you add artificial creamers to your coffee, you’re essentially adding oils and sugar – the principal ingredients. The other ingredients prevent the oils from separating and provide a hint of dairy flavor as well as artificial flavor/color. Sound yummy? How about trying a shot of REAL 2% milk instead? You’ll gain some essential nutrients while you feed your coffee-drinking ritual.
An ounce (2 Tbsp) of 2% milk has 1 gram of protein and just 17 calories. In addition, you’ll gain some of your daily dose of vitamins and minerals: Vitamin A (1%), Calcium (4%), Vitamin D (3%), Phosphorus (3%), and Potassium (2%). To trim the fat even more, switch to skim (nonfat) or 1% lowfat milk.
Better yet, try some evaporated skim milk (not to be confused with sweetened condensed milk). It has zero fat and a rich consistency since 50-60% of its water has been removed. Compared to regular milk, evaporated skim milk has twice the protein (2 gm) and 25 calories per ounce with double the nutrients: Vitamin A (2%), Calcium (8%), Vitamin D (6%), and Potassium (3%).
Fit Tip: If you also gradually reduce the amount of sugar you add to your coffee, this single adjustment would be healthier for your heart. A study found that sugar can lower your levels of HDL (good cholesterol) and raise your levels of triglyceride (fats in the blood).