I love coffee AND sleep! Let's understand how one impacts the other!
Hello, Friend! Happy Tuesday!
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It’s Valentine’s Day, so it’s only appropriate to talk about love!
Maybe a non-traditional expression of love, but today I’d like to talk about two of my non-human loves: coffee and sleep!
I love coffee. I also love sleep. And, those things can sometimes work in opposition to one another, so let’s dig into that and understand those impacts. This way, just in case you love these things too, you can make appropriate decisions for yourself about them!
(Side note: Cutting back on coffee was something I was super nervous about when I got pregnant. Not that I used to drink a ton, but I was more of a 2-3 cups a day kinda gal, and wanted to bring that back to only 1. For me, it was helpful to replace those other two cups with other delicious beverages (decaf teas, seltzer + True Lime, or electrolytes) so it wasn’t like I was just getting rid of them all together. That strategy was pretty successful, and, luckily, it wasn’t as hard as I thought it was going to be. Consider the “replacement strategy” for things you’re trying to moderate!)
(Another side note: This baby is REALLY moving a lot today, and kicking a lot, and punching a lot in my almost-34-weeks pregnant belly. It’s super distracting. And kinda painful. Can a uterus get bruised??? Anyway, just had to share.)
So, first of all, why is getting enough sleep important anyway?
Sleep is a master regulator of metabolism and brain function because it allows for rest and relaxation through light and deep sleep cycles. If we don’t get enough, our bodies, minds, and mental capacities can suffer.
Sleep helps us to control weight and combat obesity.
Sleep cycles help with physical recovery, muscle growth, rest, and inflammation levels, thus improving physical performance.
Digestion continues while we sleep.
Sleep helps keep your immune system functioning.
What happens if we don't get enough sleep?
Lack of sleep can impact our hormones and food choices! One study showed that sleep deprivation (4 hours per night in the study) resulted in lower levels of leptin (our hormone that tells us we're full) and higher levels of ghrelin (our hormone that tells us we're hungry). This caused participants to feel more hungry and have less of an inclination to stop eating when they were full.... not a helpful combo! On top of that, the study showed that this sleep deprivation resulted in participants, when hungry, wanting to eat more calorie-dense, processed foods, baked goods, bread, and the like.
We age faster, become sicker, literally feel bad.
We're less able to cope with physiological and psychological stresses.
Lack of sleep leads to decreased ability to perform athletically or in daily life, difficulty remembering, thinking clearly, or making decisions.
Not-So-Fun Fact: going 24 hours without sleep is equivalent to having a Blood Alcohol Level of 0.10%.
Lack of sleep leads to an increased risk for chronic illnesses like heart disease, Type 2 diabetes, cancer.
Being tired can also trigger emotional eating.
Lack of sleep leads to increased cortisol, which is our main stress hormone. Cortisol also increases our body’s blood sugar.
Here's the bottom line: Without adequate sleep, you are essentially unable to function at your highest level, it is harder to reach your body composition goals, and you are exposing yourself to potential health issues, lack of mental/physical function, and are at higher risk of making food choices that are not in your best interest.
If we can help it, we don't want those things!
So, what should you aim for? We should aim for 7-9 hours of quality sleep, with fewer than 2 significant wake-ups. (A "Significant wakeup" is something like getting up and going to the bathroom, or waking up in the middle of the night and not being able to fall back asleep.)
And now, about the caffeine/coffee and its impact on sleep.
This new meta-analysis looked at data from 24 studies on sleep and caffeine. It found, “Caffeine consumption reduced total sleep time by 45 min and sleep efficiency by 7%, with an increase in sleep onset latency of 9 min and wake after sleep onset of 12 min. Duration (+6.1 min) and proportion (+1.7%) of light sleep (N1) increased with caffeine intake and the duration (−11.4 min) and proportion (−1.4%) of deep sleep (N3 and N4) decreased with caffeine intake.”
So, basically, if you consume caffeine, you’re getting less sleep, less effective sleep, having a harder time falling asleep, and it takes longer to fall back asleep after waking up in the middle of the night. …Great.
Equally, while it’s true that we can adapt to caffeine intake over time due to exposure, it turns out that people who say things like, “Caffeine doesn’t impact me and I sleep fine even if I drink coffee at 8pm” aren’t quite right and could be sleeping better.
The study also makes recommendations as to when we should start to limit our intake of caffeine to help ourselves sleep best. The study says, “To avoid reductions in total sleep time, coffee (107 mg per 250 mL) should be consumed at least 8.8 h prior to bedtime and a standard serve of pre-workout supplement (217.5 mg) should be consumed at least 13.2 h prior to bedtime.”
So, if you’re going to have caffeine and plan to go to sleep by 10pm, you should have your last coffee around 1pm, or your last serving of preworkout products by 8:30am. (Wow, I have had quite a few preworkout servings at 4pm or later in my day… whoops!)
Despite these findings, the study does not recommend cutting out caffeine completely though, as it does have some benefits. Caffeine can help combat headaches due to it's increase in blood flow, it can decrease risk for some diseases, and can act as a great pre-workout!
Anyway, I share this study because I appreciate having data and numbers attached to obscure recommendations like, “Don’t drink coffee too late” because that does that really mean?! This makes it easier for me to decide what’s right for me! And now you can do the same for yourself.
Enjoy your coffee. Get your sleep. It’s possible to love both ; )
As always, thank you for reading! If you like this post, go ahead and like it, share it, make a comment!
Happy Valentine’s Day,
PS— If you’re looking for other ways to express your love today, might I recommend taking a few minutes to love yourself!
Take a few minutes today to look in the mirror and say “I love you.” Think about at least 3 things you LOVE about yourself!
Regardless of exactly how you feel about yourself/your body right now, I really hope you make some time and do this self-care activity today. Hear me out…
Why should you do it?
For a few reasons…
We probably don’t express love or appreciation for ourselves enough.
Embracing and loving our bodies is not always easy and takes practice!
As a whole, humans likely spend more time thinking about things they’re trying to improve or change about themselves than thinking about things they love about themselves.
So, this activity allows us to take a second and express that love.
And, I totally get that it might feel SUPER WEIRD to do!
Let’s be real… There may be parts of yourself that you’re not fully comfortable with. (But, hint, almost everyone has stretch marks and cellulite!)
You may be looking to see changes and have goals to gain or lose some weight.
You may be looking to gain some confidence.
Here’s the thing though… When we focus on what we love about ourselves, it makes it easier to focus on our health and longevity and reaching our goals, instead of dwelling on the things that aren’t “perfect” yet.
That, AND it’s much easier to make changes and achieve goals from a place of love than a place of dislike. Trust me, I’ve tried both ;) When we focus on what we love about ourselves, it makes it easier to focus on our health and longevity and reaching our goals.
With this all being said, I completely recognize that there are things we may not love or may want to make improvements around, and those feelings are 100% valid too, and I fully support you working towards the things you want!
We can work on and towards improvements on those things from a place of love, respect, appreciation, and for want of forward progress. It’s much more effective!
So, as the great Justin Bieber once said, “Love yourself.”