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Coffee has earned a reputation for being the drink of choice when you need to wake up or even stay awake long past the time you normally would be blissfully dreaming the night away, and rightfully so. Coffee contains caffeine, a known stimulant. Caffeine can quickly wake you up and get you moving whether you are having a hard time waking up for that early meeting or just need to stay up late to finish that big presentation you have the next day.
Doctors have long been telling their patients to cut down on coffee if they have trouble sleeping or even suffer from various medical conditions such as hypertension. However, did you know that coffee can also be used to help you sleep? While that may sound crazy, when you take a look at how our body reacts when we drink one cup of coffee or three, you can begin to understand exactly why it can actually ultimately have the opposite effect from what you might expect. In fact, the more coffee you drink, the more tired you could ultimately feel as your body continues to react the endless supply of coffee you keep pouring into your system.
To understand why some people feel even more tired after enjoying a nice hot cup of joe, it is important to understand how caffeine affects the human body. Caffeine suppresses adenosine function and causes the body to produce more of the hormones epinephrine and cortisol. These are the hormones that are responsible for providing your body with that extra surge of energy and adrenaline when you need it. This essentially wakes you up and makes you feel more alert. However, these effects are only temporary. Your body will quickly break down the caffeine in your body and these effects will dissipate.
However, while you may think that once the energy inducing effects of caffeine have worn off you will still remain awake, in actuality things are quite different. This is due to the manner in which caffeine interacts with your body and what it causes your body to do when you pour it down your throat.
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As we mentioned, caffeine suppresses the function of the adenosine receptors in your body. It is these receptors that are responsible for helping slow down your body’s systems. They help you feel more relaxed and can even help make you tired. When you drink coffee, the caffeine suppresses the function of these receptors. To compensate, your body produces even more adenosine receptors.
So what happens when all of the caffeine has left your body? Once the effects have subsided, your body is left with an extra supply of adenosine receptors. With all of these extra receptors present in your body you will quickly find that you become even more drowsy and tired than you were before you poured that first cup of coffee. This is why so many people that drink caffeine “crash.” In some cases, people are so tired and fatigued because of the adenosine in their body they the only way they know to combat these effects is by drinking even more coffee.
However, adenosine isn’t the only reason a cup of coffee can make you feel drowsy and even help you sleep.
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Coffee Induced Diuresis
Coffee is a diuretic, which means it makes you urinate. If you drink coffee on a regular basis, you know exactly what I’m talking about. It doesn’t take long for you to feel the effects of coffee while you drink it and you will be running off to the bathroom. If you drink enough of it, you will go to the bathroom again, and again, and again.
With all these extra trips to urinate, your body will quickly deplete the fluids it needs and you will become dehydrated. If you aren’t drinking water with your coffee, or are drinking cup after cup of java, you will quickly deplete your stores water. This will cause your blood to thicken forcing it to flow more slowly through your body. With you blood flow restricted oxygen and other nutrients will take long to reach the various parts of your body, including your brain. With less oxygen reaching all of your vital organs and, especially your brain, you will quickly begin to notice that you begin to feel tired and drowsy.
The Cycle Caused By Coffee
The caffeine in coffee cannot be ignored. Caffeine is a stimulant that will, at least initially, help you feel more awake. However, those effects are usually short-lived and pretty soon after drinking that cup of wake up juice you will start to feel tired and sluggish again. So what do you do? You drink more coffee.
The more coffee you drink, the more you will have to urinate. The more you urinate, the more dehydrated you will get causing your blood flow to slow even more. It is this effect that makes you feel tired and why so many people drink cup after cup of coffee. Unfortunately, if you are drinking coffee to stay awake, this cycle is ultimately doomed to failure. However, if you are having trouble sleeping, a cup of coffee could end up being the best medicine for you.
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Should You Drink Coffee
Now while coffee may cause your body to go into a never ending cycle as you continue to drink it on a regular basis, that doesn’t mean that you have to give up coffee altogether. In reality, there are many benefits to your health that you can only get from drinking coffee. Some of these benefits are:
- Fat Burning
- Improved Physical Performance and Intelligence
- Coffee Provides Essential Nutrients
- Lower Risk of Diabetes
- Coffee Can Fight Depression
- Lowers Risk of Some Cancers
These are only a few of the benefits that you will find by drinking coffee on a regular basis. What you need to remember is not to rely on coffee as your only method of waking up and staying up. Instead, make sure you stay well hydrated by drinking water and avoiding coffee or other beverages loaded with sugar. If you still prefer the taste of coffee over these other options, try switching to a decaffeinated coffee to drink while you are trying stay awake. Remember, there is nothing wrong with having a good or even great cup of coffee each day, just don’t rely on it as your only method of staying awake.
How to Use Coffee As a Sleep Aid
While you should always seek the assistance of a doctor if you regularly have trouble sleeping, if you are like many people, it only crops up occasionally. If you have tried everything on those nights when you are having trouble sleeping but you just can’t seem to fall asleep, a cup of coffee could be your answer.
Now you should drink coffee right before you go to bed. This is because the initial effects of caffeine will, in fact, wake you up and make you feel more alert, which is the exact opposite of what you are trying to accomplish in the first place. So, when you are already in bed tossing and turning a cup of coffee won’t be the right solution for your insomnia troubles.
But, if an hour or two before bed, you make yourself a cup of coffee, you could put your body on track to feel drowsy at just the right time so you can drift off to sleep when you want it. When you drink that final cup of coffee for the night will largely be up to you and your body. Caffeine impacts each person’s body very differently and the effects can last longer or shorter depending on many different factors such as your tolerance, weight and more.
This may take a little practice in the beginning. When you first start, you could find that you drink a cup of coffee a little too late making you stay up even later, or you could drink it too early which would result in you feeling tired way before your bedtime. But if you time it right, you could enjoy an evening with a little more energy than you would normally have and, when it is time for bed, you will find that it is much easier for you to fall asleep so you can enjoy a good night’s rest that you deserve.
While caffeine will most definitely give you a little pick me up in the mornings or even at night, the effects that it has on your body can, in the long run, actually have the opposite effect. So, if you are having trouble sleeping, try having a cup of coffee in the evening. Once the initial effects of the caffeine begin to wear off and your body compensates for the additional caffeine in your system, you could quickly find yourself feeling tired and drowsy and ready for a good nights rest. Just be sure you time it right. If you don’t, you could find yourself awake much later than you had planned as you wait for the energy inducing effects of the caffeine to subside so your body slows down and prepares for a good night’s sleep.
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