Some of you may know meas The Sleep Doctor. I’ve spent the last 19 years seeing patients, doing research and educating everyone on the benefits of a good night’s sleep. Today I’m going to dispel a myth thatsurrounds the two most abused substances worldwide,caffeine and alcohol.
The truth is, there are a lot of storiesabout the effect of both of these products on sleep. Caffeine is the most popular fast-actingstimulant in the world today. Coffee accounts for 54% of all thecaffeine consumed in the world, tea accounts for the other 43%.
So, 97% of all the caffeine taken daily around the world comes from these two products. On any given day, 85% of all Americans useat least one caffeinated product. In fact, the amount of caffeine consumedon an average day by adult Americans is about 300 milligrams per person. That’s about three times higherthan the world average.
But before we go and condemn the Americansfor ingesting too much caffeine, that’s only half of the daily caffeineconsumed in heavy tea-drinking countries, like England and Sweden. Now, most people think caffeine doesn’tstay in their body system very long. “I can drink a cup of coffee after dinnerand I’ll be fine to go to sleep.” That’s what lots of people tell me. Well, that’s a very popular myth.
The half-life of caffeine in your body isbetween six and eight hours. That means if you consume 100 milligramsof caffeine in the morning, six to eight hours later,you’re still going to have 50 milligrams that’s impacting your system. We know that when you have about half ofyour total daily intake, it does not affect the abilityto fall asleep.
So if you want to go to bed at 10:00 pmwithout having caffeine affecting your sleep habits, you need to stop drinkingcaffeine by about 2:00 pm. Now, for those of you working inhigh-paced jobs, the idea of giving up caffeine so early in the dayis quite surprising.
But if you want to achieve optimum sleep,it’s important to remove the stimulant, like caffeine. While you may feel like the buzz from acup of coffee or tea only lasts for an hour or two, in fact,its impact lasts much longer. Okay, so then what if you can’t sleep? Alcohol is the number onesleep aid in the world.
You’d think that would be a good thing,but alcohol also deprives you from feeling the effects of deep sleep,mainly stages three and four which can have the most important impacton your body. So, you need to give your body time toabsorb the alcohol before allowing yourself to go to sleep. It takes the average human bodyapproximately one hour to absorb one alcoholic beverage.
So if you’re going to be drinking in theevening and have, say, three glasses of wine,you need to make sure to give your body at least three hours after the last glassbefore going to sleep. This will allow your body to recover so itcan provide you with the best sleep possible. So the problem isn’t necessarily alcoholitself, but how we process it. It’s okay to drink alcohol,but the key is timing.
Timing is critical in terms of how itaffects your sleep, your health and your next day. So, no alcohol. Then you might be wondering,what can I do for a good night’s rest? Exercise is a simple way to improve thequality of your sleep. As little as 20 to 25 minutes of dailyexercise will improve the length and depth of your sleep. However, if you exercise too close tobedtime, it might affect your ability to fall asleep.
A good rule is not to exercise within fourhours of your desired bedtime. Otherwise, you may actually find sleepmore difficult. Another big thing is the negative impactof using your phone or tablet when you’re going to bed at night. Your exposure to light can cause a wholehost of sleep problems.
Getting some form of light within 30 minutes of waking up is usually one of the best things you can do for your circadianrhythms in the morning, but you don’t want thatblue light at night. Doing something like going out to get themorning paper or taking your dog for a walk is a wonderful way to help your bodyestablish this new waking pattern.
But what we’re talking about is blue light. That’s the type of light that is emittedfrom either your mobile phone or your tablet. What people don’t realize is that bluelight is like caffeine for the brain. It causes a reaction in your body thatsuppresses the melatonin, which is what helps regulateyour sleep cycles.
So if you want to develop healthy sleeppatterns, it’s important not to use your phone in bed. Because when you turn your phone on andsurf even for as little as five minutes, it can have a dramatic effect on yoursystem, and it’s kind of like taking a shot of caffeine. And that’s definitely not what you want tobe doing late at night.
So to sum it up, don’t drink caffeine past2:00 pm, don’t drink alcohol right before bedtime. The rule is if you have two glasses ofwine, you need to give your body at least two hours before going to sleep.
Exercise 20 to 25 minutes a day will giveyou a better night’s rest, and put that phone away just before bed. If you want to learn to sleep like achampion and optimize your sleep for increased energy and productivity.
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