Caffeine is a drug that is naturally produced in the leaves and seeds of many plants.
Caffeine can also be produced artificially and added to certain foods.
It is found naturally in sixty plants including tea leaf, coffee bean, kola nut and cacao pod.
People consume caffeine on a daily basis in tea, coffee, chocolate, cocoa, soft drinks and some other drugs.
Caffeine stimulates the central nervous system, causing increased heart rate and alertness. As caffeine is a stimulant, many people use it after waking up in the morning or to remain alert during the day. People sensitive to it experience a temporary increase in energy and elevation in mood.
Caffeine cannot replace sleep, but it can temporarily make you feel more alert by blocking sleep inducing chemicals in the brain and increasing adrenaline production.
Effects of caffeine:
Higher doses of caffeine causes dizziness, headaches, anxiety and can interfere with normal sleep. It is addictive and cause withdrawal symptoms for people who abruptly stops consuming it. The symptoms include muscle aches, temporary depression, severe headaches and irritability.
Young children are more sensitive to caffeine because they are not exposed to it as much as adults. It negatively affects child’s nutrition by replacing nutrient dense foods such as milk. As it acts as an appetite suppressant, your child may eat less.
Pregnant women should decrease the intake of caffeine. It can worsen heart problems or nervous disorders.
Caffeine has a mild dehydrating effect because it increases the need to urinate. Large amounts of it cause the body to lose calcium and potassium causing sore muscles and delayed recovery times after exercise.
Caffeine enters the blood through the stomach and small intestine and can have stimulating effect as soon as fifteen minutes after the consumption. It stays in your body for several hours.
Sleep problems and caffeine:
Individuals need seven to eight hours of sleep each night. But, caffeine can interfere with quality of sleep. Losing sleep from work, stress, travel and too much caffeine result in sleep deprivation. Using it to cope with sleep deprivation is not a good choice.
You drink caffeinated beverages because you have trouble staying awake during the day. But, caffeine keeps you from falling asleep at night, decreasing the length of time you sleep. It also increases number of wake up times during night and can impede with deep sleep which makes your night restless.
The next day you are more tired because of less and poor quality sleep. To feel more energetic and fight the tiredness, you reach for morning coffee. The cycle continues. You have to break the cycle by limiting your caffeine and add more quality of sleep to your day. Avoid caffeine and caffeinated beverages six to eight hours before bedtime.
If you have trouble sleeping, record the times you drink caffeine, and how you feel and sleep afterwards for 10 to 15 days. Many people do not count the caffeine content when they eat a small piece of chocolate.
But, you should keep track of chocolate, coffee, tea and other caffeinated drinks. The record will help to identify the time of the day at which you should switch to non-caffeinated products or cut back caffeine to have a good night sleep.