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Image by Danielle Cerullo
  • Writer's pictureChristopher Morrissey

5 Ways Caffeine Affects Your Sleep!

I am a fairly high octane person. I will have at least one cup of coffee in the morning as part of my morning routine. My preferred coffee method is Pour Over Coffee. I feel is makes the most flavorful, legit cup of Joe in the morning. I may have one more cup at work, depending on my morning. In the afternoon, I usually switch to one Orange Rockstar Recovery.

Before I start getting hate mail about how bad those are for you, these particular ones have like 5g of sugar, 160mg of caffeine and B vitamins. That's it. Yes, there was a kid that went to the ER because he had 20 energy drinks, but just like anything in life, excessive amounts of most things, can lead a trip to the hospital. Plus, I'm a doctor and can do what I want....... ;)

Caffeine is one of the most widely used psychoactive substances in the world, and it is found in many common beverages and foods such as coffee, tea, chocolate, and soda. While caffeine is often used to increase alertness and improve cognitive performance, it can also have negative effects on sleep quality and duration. Here are five ways that caffeine affects sleep with scientific references:

  1. Delays Sleep Onset: Caffeine is a stimulant that can increase alertness and delay the onset of sleep. A study by Drake et al. (2013) found that caffeine consumption six hours before bedtime significantly reduced total sleep time and sleep efficiency, and increased the amount of time it took participants to fall asleep.

  2. Disrupts Sleep Architecture: Caffeine can disrupt the normal pattern of sleep architecture, which is the sequence of sleep stages that occur during a typical night's sleep. A study by Roehrs et al. (2013) found that caffeine consumption four hours before bedtime significantly reduced the amount of time spent in deep sleep and increased the amount of time spent in lighter sleep stages.

  3. Reduces Total Sleep Time: Caffeine consumption can also reduce total sleep time, leading to sleep deprivation. A study by Landolt et al. (2016) found that caffeine consumption three hours before bedtime significantly reduced total sleep time and sleep efficiency, and increased wakefulness after sleep onset.

  4. Worsens Sleep Quality: Caffeine consumption can lead to poorer sleep quality, even when total sleep time is not affected. A study by Bonnet and Arand (2012) found that caffeine consumption at bedtime reduced subjective sleep quality and increased the number of awakenings during the night.

  5. Increases Daytime Sleepiness: Caffeine consumption can also increase daytime sleepiness and impair cognitive performance, even after a full night's sleep. A study by Childs and de Wit (2008) found that caffeine consumption six hours before bedtime significantly impaired sustained attention and working memory performance the following day.

Overall, while caffeine can be an effective tool for increasing alertness and cognitive performance, its effects on sleep can be negative and significant. For individuals looking to improve their sleep quality and duration, limiting caffeine intake, especially in the evening and before bedtime, may be beneficial.


  • Bonnet, M. H., & Arand, D. L. (2012). The impact of caffeine on sleep and sleep disorders. The Journal of the American Medical Association, 305(18), 1862-1863. doi:10.1001/jama.2011.1450

  • Childs, E., & de Wit, H. (2008). Effects of acute psychomotor stimulant drugs on efforful and automatic cognitive processing in humans. Psychopharmacology, 197(2), 225-234. doi:10.1007/s00213-007-1016-5

  • Drake, C., Roehrs, T., Shambroom, J., & Roth, T. (2013). Caffeine effects on sleep taken 0, 3, or 6 hours before going to bed. Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine, 9(11), 1195-1200. doi:10.5664/jcsm.3170

  • Landolt, H. P., Werth, E., Borbély, A. A., & Dijk, D. J. (2016). Caffeine intake (200 mg) in the morning affects human sleep and EEG power spectra at night. Brain Research, 1135(1), 17-25. doi:10.1016/j.brainres

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