Marlene Even 

What effect is our morning caffeine fix having on our quality of sleep?

While we often don’t think of coffee as a drug, it does act as a stimulant. Having a cup of
coffee speeds up the brain and nervous system, as our hearts beat faster, and body
temperature rises we feel more awake. When we consume too much caffeine it can make it
harder for us to fall asleep and diminishes the quality of sleep. For example, sleep may be
lighter and disrupted throughout the night. Other impacts include anxiety, agitation and
tremors. The Sleep Foundation has questioned this year whether that urge for a caffeine fix
could be hiding a sleep disorder.

“We suspect there are many people out there using caffeine to push their body to the limit
to find energy that they’re missing after a poor night’s sleep.” says Associate Professor
Siobhan Banks, the sleep specialist from the Sleep Health Foundation.
How much caffeine is okay?

The Sleep Health Foundation says individuals should have no more than 200mg of caffeine a
day, and caffeinated drinks aren’t suitable for children under 12. While NSW Health website
suggests healthy adults around 70kg should aim for no more than 400mg of caffeine a day,
unless they are experiencing stress, are pregnant or breastfeeding in which case less than
200mg a day is recommended. The effect of caffeine intake will vary from person to person
depending on factors such as their weight, health, mood and whether they have caffeine

Recommendations for a good night’s rest:

  • Avoid caffeine 3-6 hours before sleeping
  • Try to stick to a bed time
  • Allow 2-3 hours between a main meal and sleeping
  • Wind down and relax before bed
  • Lower the lights and avoid using technology before bed
  • Don’t stare at the clock when trying to sleep as the stress will make it difficult to nod


The Sleep Health Foundation’s ‘Sleep Awareness Week’ runs from the 1-7 October.

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