Caffeine and Sleep Deprivation

February 19, 2022

Caffeine & Sleep Deprivation

Caffeine can delay the timing of the body clock, which can reduce the total sleep time. Sleep deprivation includes the risk of limited concentration, impaired memory, abnormal blood glucose, and, most importantly, a weakened immunity.

From the moment we wake up, a sleepiness chemical builds up to create sleep pressure. This chemical is adenosine, and the more it builds up, the sleepier we feel. The way caffeine works are by entering the brain and masking the adenosine receptors. Despite the masking effect of caffeine, adenosine continues to build up. Once the body gets rid of the caffeine, we go back to that level of sleepiness before caffeine, plus all of the additional tiredness built up in between.

Sleep is crucial for long-term well-being. The brain has a 'sewage system' called the glymphatic system that gets rid of metabolic waste. This system kicks into high gear during deep sleep. Indeed, this is relevant to many people and could be a wise connection between the development of Alzheimer's associated beta-plaques building up in some people and not others.

Caffeine is a stimulant and should be stopped 4-6 hours before bedtime to achieve deeper sleep and long-term better overall health.

by Sarah Murad, Medical Student


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