Caffeine might be the most popular drug in the world, and it is found naturally in more than 60 plants. These plants include the coffee bean, tea leaf, kola nuts, and cacao pod. Caffeine is consumed all over the world on a daily basis in coffee, tea, cocoa, chocolate, soda, and some medications.
As a stimulant, caffeine is often used to wake up in the morning or remain alert during the day. Although caffeine is not a substitute for sleep, it can temporarily help you feel more alert as it blocks sleep-inducing chemicals in the brain and increase adrenaline production.
Studies have shown that caffeine serves no nutritional purpose. However, moderate caffeine intake is not associated with any recognized health risk. A moderate amount of caffeine would consist of three 8 ounce-cups of caffeine, or 250 milligrams. An excessive amount of caffeine is six or more cups of coffee per day.
By entering the bloodstream through the stomach and small intestines, caffeine can have a stimulating effect as soon as 15 minutes after being consumed. The effects of caffeine persist for several hours, and it takes approximately six hours for half of the caffeine consumed to be eliminated. Caffeine can become addictive and can cause signs of withdrawal such as headache, fatigue, and muscle pain.
Caffeine is not recommended for children, as it can negatively affect their nutrition, especially if nutrient-dense food or drinks, such as milk, are replaced. Caffeine also acts as an appetite suppressant, which may make a child eat less.
Many experts advise to limit caffeine to two 8 ounce servings per day during pregnancy. Currently, there is no FDA warning for pregnant or nursing women to eliminate caffeine from their diet.
Symptoms of caffeine use in moderate doses include increased alertness, reduced fine motor coordination, insomnia, and sometimes headaches, nervous and dizziness. Caffeine may also cause anxiety, irritability, increased heart rate, frequent urination, sleep disruption, and a “crash” when the effects wear off.
To learn more about caffeine and its influence on sleep quality, call The Los Angeles Sleep Study Institute at 1-855-690-0563.