Now Entering Dreamland is a podcast that centers around dreams, sleep and everything in between. Sit back and relax- you’re now entering Dreamland.
Season 2; Episode 8 features a discussion about insomnia and the impact of caffeine on sleep.
*This episode contains resources from Healthline (healthline.com) and sleepeducation.org.
Are you ready to wake up? You are Now Entering Dreamland.
Welcome to Now Entering Dreamland, a podcast about dreams, sleep and everything in between. Welcome back to those of you who have been to Dreamland before, we’re happy to have you back and welcome to those of you joining us in Dreamland for the first time.
It’s time for a new episode of Dreamland, and I am departing from my usual content to discuss something I have thought about for a while: how does caffeine impact sleep?
For those of you who have listened to this podcast for a while, you probably have heard me mention my long list of sleep issues. One of those issues is my periodic insomnia, an inability to fall and stay asleep.
So, some background. I have struggled with periodic bouts of insomnia since childhood (or teenage-hood… if that is even a thing). There were times when I was stressed about taking a test or an essay and I just wouldn’t sleep. I just laid in bed, anxious.
I pulled all-nighters in college. But I think a lot of people do that.
And ever since then, there are sometimes nights that I don’t sleep.
But last year, after COVID quarantining began, my sleep just got really out of whack. I began staying up days at a time. After a night of not sleeping, I would chug an energy drink, I don’t like coffee, in the early morning. Then I would drink another caffeinated beverage in the afternoon around lunch. If I had a virtual class or a Zoom in the early evening, I would need another caffeinated drink around 5 pm to keep me going. And after a day full of caffeine, it was hard to go to sleep. And the cycle would repeat.
And all of this really got me thinking: what is caffeine and how does it impact sleep?
Well, I finally did some research. And before I go further, please note: I am not a doctor, sleep expert or any kind of medical professional. This is based on research I have found online. If you have questions about sleep and/ or insomnia, consult with a medical professional.
From Sleep Education at sleepeducation.org: “Caffeine is a natural substance that can be extracted from plants. Natural sources of caffeine include coffee beans, tea leaves and cocoa beans. It also can be produced synthetically.”
From Healthline: caffeine is a “central nervous system stimulant that affects your body in numerous ways.” “When it reaches your brain, the most noticeable effect is alertness. You’ll feel more awake and less tired, so it’s a common ingredient in medications to treat or manage drowsiness, headaches, and migraines.”
Let’s analyze your morning cup of coffee.
For years, people made fun of me for drinking energy drinks in the morning. People would say that I was drinking too much caffeine. Well, I did research, and coffee actually can have more caffeine than an energy drink. I mean, I know people drinking espressos in the morning and no one tells them “boo”. Granted, energy drinks have other ingredients in addition to caffeine.
I have a need. A need for caffeine.
I am someone who drinks a caffeinated beverage daily. Sometimes twice a day. Is this good for me? Bad for me? This is what I have found.
According to Healthline: “Caffeine may improve mood, decrease the likelihood of depression, stimulate brain function, and protect against Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease.”
And also: “Caffeine can have negative side effects in some people, including anxiety, restlessness, and trouble sleeping.”
Yeah, I have experienced the “trouble sleeping” part.
So, shouldn’t I just stop drinking caffeinated beverages?
I don’t think it’s that easy.
Did you watch Saved By The Bell? I did. I used to watch it every morning. And, as a fan, I remember a certain episode about caffeine.
Even if you’re not a fan, you probably know this episode. It is *that* iconic.
In it, one of the main characters, Jessie, begins taking caffeine pills to keep up with everything. Her friend group is appalled at this, so she hides the pills and begins taking more and more of them. Eventually, she breaks down and begins to sing “I’m So Excited” by The Pointer Sisters. If this premise sounds a bit ridiculous to you, that’s because this episode is ridiculous.
But caffeine is a drug. And it is addictive. Caffeine withdrawals do happen and symptoms can include headaches and muscle aches. I even notice days when I don’t drink an energy drink, like on the weekends, I tend to experience a tension headache.
So, all in all, I think I’ll keep drinking my caffeinated drinks in the morning. But I’m trying a new thing: I’m trying to not drink caffeine past 3 pm. I hope I stick with it.
And that’s it for the latest episode of Now Entering Dreamland. You can find all of the episodes on our website, nowenteringdreamland.com.
You’re now leaving Dreamland. But we’ll see you next time.
Read the resources: