Should I Drink Coffee Before Bed?

Most medical advice would state that caffeine should be avoided at least six hours before bed to help a person get the maximum amount of sleep. What’s more, most medical advice tells people to avoid caffeine as it can lead to increased alertness and irritability.

Yet, is this necessarily true? The short answer would be no, it is not, and many know that drinking coffee before bed can be healthy.

The Health Benefits of Coffee

First of all, coffee has several health benefits. Coffee has several healthy nutrients and antioxidants when ground such as riboflavin, potassium, and niacin. Coffee has the added benefits of improving performance by helping a person become more alert and has even been shown to help aid fat burning by boosting the body's metabolic rate.

Coffee has the added benefit of helping to stave off depression In a study by Harvard University that was published in 2011. people who drank 4 cups or more of coffee had a 20% lower of being depressed.

The potential health effects of drinking coffee are that it might help stave off Alzheimer's disease, diabetes, and can lower a person's chance of Parkinson's Disease.

Why Drink Coffee at Night?

The health benefits of coffee aside, why should a person look into drinking coffee at night? First of all, new studies indicate that drinking coffee may not be disruptive for the majority of people and their sleep cycle. A study by Harvard Medical School and Florida Atlantic University followed 785 people over a total of 5, 164 nights to record how much sleep the participants were receiving.

The amount of nicotine, alcohol, and caffeine the participants were consuming was also recorded. Caffeine did not have a significant impact on the majority of the participant's sleeping habits and the study found that the most disruptive was nicotine followed closely by alcohol.

Drinking coffee has been shown to increase life expectancy in many people. Drinking two cups of black coffee per day can increase the average lifespan by two years.

A new trend is taking a "coffee nap." A coffee nap is where a person drinks a cup of coffee and takes a short fifteen to twenty minute nap before the brain can go into deep or REM sleep.

Why does this work? Well, caffeine works its way into your brain and stops adenosine receptors. Adenosine receptors are what makes a person feel tired and sleepy. The caffeine can have the effect of dampening the adenosine receptors, but also having the added benefit of short sleep allowing someone to feel more rested and alert.

My Personal Experiences with Coffee

lady smelling the coffee in the morning

That being said, what have been my experiences with drinking coffee and then going to sleep?

I am not a big drinker of coffee, although I consume caffeine on a regular basis (I drink Dr. Pepper). I do like the smell and taste of coffee, so I will indulge myself every once and a while and go to Starbucks to get the cold frappuccino. I tend to enjoy pumpkin spice and peppermint the best.

My mom will come to visit and she is a big coffee drinker, so I tend to indulge more when she is visiting. I also tend to go later in the day and not in the mornings. The truth is, coffee has little effect on whether I go to sleep or not. The amount of stress has a far greater impact on me than coffee does. I have been able to drink a grande cup of frappuccino and be asleep two hours later and stay asleep the whole night.

This is not the same for everyone. I suspect my age has something to do with it (I'm in my 30s). I know my mom, in her 70s, says she can't have coffee past about three in the afternoon or she has trouble going to sleep.

My sister-in-law, on the other hand, loves Starbucks and can have coffee late in the evening and still be asleep by nine or ten at night. The effect caffeine has is largely based on the individual person and the only way to know might be to experiment a little bit.

Someone might test if they can fall asleep while drinking coffee when they have time off or the weekend. Pick a day when you don't have to get up early for work and it's okay to lose a little sleep if it affects you that way.

The higher concentration of coffee could also have an effect on a person. I know that if my sister-in-law gets too many shots added to her coffee it tends to have a negative effect of sleep deprivation. Too much coffee can make a person irritable and can raise the heart rate, so there does need to be some discretion when drinking coffee.

Does coffee really boost life expectancy and have health benefits? Speaking from personal experience, it seems to. My mother has drank black coffee for most of her adult life (as long as I can remember) and she is in good health both physically and mentally. My grandfather lived to be nearly eighty and he was a two cups of black coffee a day drinker. Most of my family are coffee drinkers and tend to be in good health.

The Verdict

The verdict is in: yes to drinking coffee at night. There are many health benefits to coffee including more productivity, nutrients, staving off diseases such as Alzheimer's and liver disease, and can help people burn fat.

Most people are able to drink coffee and sleep well at night, or in some cases even better if coffee naps are any indication. Experimentation might be the best way for a person to know how their body reacts to coffee and their sleep cycle. One idea might be to switch to decaf later at night or to mix regular coffee and decaf together.