Once the winter time hits and it's starting to get dark around 4 in the afternoon, I am totally a two cups of coffee a day kind of gal. Otherwise, I'm easily in bed by 8 p.m. tired after four hours of darkness, hiding from the cold temperatures. Turns out, though, that that late-afternoon cup of Joe could really be messing with my sleep. A new study from Michigan's Henry Ford Hospital's Sleep Disorders & Research Center and Wayne State College of Medicine found that caffeine consumed even SIX hours before bedtime can significantly mess with your sleep quantity and quality.
SIX hours?! So you mean to tell me that I shouldn't have my daily dose of java after 3 p.m. or so? Eeeesh, this is gonna be rough.
But wait, there's more:
Of course, the further away from bed time you can position that extra caffeine boost, the better. However, caffeine can reduce total nightly sleep by at least one hour even if it's consumed six hours before. And the kicker? Caffeine may contribute to sleep disruptions as well -- making big consumers wake up frequently throughout the night.
Wow, so essentially, even if you don't feel like that afternoon boost really does anything -- you may just not notice it while you're awake and functioning.
So what's this mean for people like me who crave that afternoon pick-me-up? Well perhaps it's about time for us all to find our energy somewhere else. Other ways to get a boost without relying on caffeine include sneaking in some exercise, taking a walk, lowering the temperature in the room you're in, and snagging a perfect afternoon snack. Here's a tip: make sure your snack is loaded with protein. Why's that? Well, the protein helps keep you full and will stave away hunger pains through dinner.
And hey, if you're itching for that coffee taste -- there's always decaf!
Do you think you get enough sleep every night?
Image via UrbaneWomenMag/Flickr