Start by thinking about your bedtime. For me, it’s about 10:30 pm. What time to you have to start getting ready for bed? You’d think anywhere from 20-60 minutes, right?
If you drink caffeine throughout the day, you need to start thinking about bedtime six hours before you hit the hay.
What’s all that about? Six hours seems like an awfully long time to start prepping for bed.
According to a 2013 study performed by Michigan’s Henry Ford Hospital’s Sleep Disorders & Research Center and the Wayne State College of Medicine, and published in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine, caffeine is still in your system and “has important disruptive effects on sleep.” The National Sleep Foundation also corroborates these findings.
Participants in the study took caffeine pills at 0, 3, and 6 hours before bed to determine how caffeine affected their sleep quality, and regardless of which time they took the pills, everyone slept less than if they hadn’t had any caffeine. And those who took the pills 0 and 3 hours before bed recorded experiencing interruptions in the middle of the night. However, even though people consuming caffeine 6 hours before bed didn’t record interruptions, they also spent less time actually asleep, as compared to the amount of time they spent in bed.
If you’re one of those people who claims that you don’t feel the effects of late-night caffeine, try a little experiment. Go a whole week or two without ingesting caffeine within 6 hours before bed, and record the amount and quality of your sleep. Then go back to your normal caffeine consumption habits. Notice a difference? Even if you’re not aware of it, caffeine is impacting your sleep.
So what’s the solution?
It may seem odd or over-the-top to think about bedtime at least six hours before you crawl between the sheets, but it’s a pretty easy way to get better sleep. Just give it a try, and let us know in the comments if your sleep quality improves!