You might think you know your limits on how caffeine and alcohol affect your health, but sometimes it is not so clear. Drinking alcohol may seem like it helps you sleep better (because it can make you sleepy), but in reality it can affect the quality of your sleep later on.
According to Dr. Deirdre Conroy, an expert in sleep behavior at the University of Michigan, alcohol, caffeine and sometimes even water can all affect sleep quality. The good news is that you don’t have to get rid of coffee and alcohol completely, even though they affect your sleep. Keep reading to find out how these drinks can affect your sleep and find out how long to stop before going to bed.
How caffeine affects sleep quality
You know that caffeine makes you more alert and less sleepy, but you may not know that the effects of drinking caffeine can last for hours after you feel that initial shock. “It still has its properties that work in your system for many, many hours, even after you may not feel its stimulant effects,” says Dr. Conroy. This means that even if you drink caffeine later in the day and can fall asleep that night, it can still affect your sleep stages at night without you realizing it.
The delayed or sustained effect of caffeine is due to the “half-life” of caffeine. According to registered functional medicine dietitian Brigid Titgemeier, the half-life of caffeine is five to seven hours, which is’ how long it takes for the caffeine [level] cut in half in your body. Caffeine consumption before bed has been shown to decrease the sleep phase three to four and suppress the slow EEG wave activity that can lead to more fatigue the next day. ”
When should you stop drinking caffeine before going to bed?
“People have very different sensitivities to caffeine, and people who consume caffeine more often may respond differently than people who don’t drink at all,” says Dr. Conroy. “But generally our guideline is eight hours before going to bed, you should eliminate all caffeinated products.”
“I generally recommend stopping caffeine around noon every day,” says Titgemeier. “This caffeine cut depends on each person, as your body’s response to caffeine depends largely on your genetic mutations. A person’s genetics can affect whether they metabolize caffeine quickly or slowly.”
How alcohol affects your sleep
Alcohol can disrupt your sleep for a variety of reasons, even if you don’t think it is affecting you. First, it can cause heartburn or acid reflux. “I recommend stopping alcohol at least two hours before going to bed,” says Titgemeier. “This is primarily for those who suffer from heartburn or a tendency to acid reflux. [drinking] alcohol and lying down soon after can be a reflux trigger and interfere with a person’s ability to get a good night’s sleep. ”
Titgemeier also says that alcohol can mess up your REM sleep, which is an important and restorative sleep phase. “When it comes to ensuring a good night’s sleep, any alcohol intake will interfere with sleep quality. But it appears that the more alcohol a person drinks, the more the REM sleep rate decreases,” she says. “For this reason, I recommend avoiding drinking at all several days a week to promote more restorative sleep.”
When should you stop drinking alcohol before going to bed?
Dr. Conroy recommends avoiding it for at least three hours before bed. “It’s sedative at first, so it can help you fall asleep, but it can interfere with staying asleep. To avoid generally using a three-hour guideline,” she says.
How water affects your sleep
Water is crucial to a healthy life and staying hydrated is essential. There is nothing wrong with drinking water before going to bed unless you drink enough so that you get up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom. Even if you can fall back to sleep easily, waking up disrupts your sleep cycles and can make it harder to reap the restorative benefits of sleep. If you are someone who often wakes up at night to go to the bathroom, you may be hesitant to drink water in the evening, even when you are thirsty.
How soon before going to bed should you stop drinking water?
You don’t have to avoid water altogether in the evening, but Dr. Conroy says limiting what you drink before going to bed can help the problem. “Maybe no more than 30 grams is recommended in the few hours before going to bed,” she says. You can also try to drink more water earlier in the day, instead of waiting until the evening to catch up. Drinking water in the evening before going to bed may seem healthy, but it backfires if it gets in the way of your precious sleep.
The information in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as health or medical advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified health care practitioner if you have any questions about a medical condition or health goals.