The Weekly Review

by Chris Bowler

Can Coffee Help You Sleep?

There are a couple of different coffee focused newsletters I’ve subscribed to over the years. The current one is from Roasty, a site dedicated to the enjoyment of coffee and those who are passionate about it. The man behind it, Matt, describes it this way:

This website, however, I built because I love coffee, and I wanted to share that love of coffee with you and everyone else who shares my passion. Through this, we can all enjoy the glory of thoughtfully made, mindfully prepared “slow” coffee together – even if we’re not in the same room. Hell, even if we’re not in the same country.

In a recent email, Matt asked the question about whether coffee can help you sleep. Sounds like a silly question, right? Well, he makes the case that this is true.

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.

He gets into the physiology of caffeine and its effect on your adenosine function, the cycle that your body takes with caffeine, and even includes some practical tips on how to use caffeine to aid your sleep.

Personally, this entire idea sounds like a recipe for disaster. Any coffee after 4pm is likely to cause issues with my sleep. But we are all different and I personally am more sensitive to caffeine that many folks. I also know that my sleep is affected by the regularity of my coffee intake. If I have a long string of days with 2–3 cups of strong coffee, I will eventually increase in fatigue, irritability, and experience lower quality sleep (that is why I reset my system every 4 weeks or so).

However, I do agree with his case that coffee intake will result in drowsiness. Just as I would not use coffee as a sleep aid, I try not to rely on it for energy either. It truly is self-defeating in this regard. Nothing is worse than the energy crash after the post-lunch coffee. So many people struggle with energy and focus at the tail end of the work day and coffee/caffeine have a role in that issue.

At any rate, it’s an interesting topic. My advice is that good sleep is better aided by an overall healthy lifestyle. Eat well, all things in moderation, and physical activity will do a lot more good for getting proper sleep than a coffee at 7pm.

Next week: let’s discuss the coffee nap!