Saturday, November 19, 2011

Question of The Week: What to Avoid in the Evenings that May Affect Your Sleep Patterns

The following question was submitted for discussion on this week's blog post:  "When I have coffee, I normally just have decaf - however the last few times I noticed I have a hard time falling asleep.  I have heard that even decaf coffee and teas contain small amounts of caffeine.  What is the truth behind this and what else I avoid in the evenings that might affect my sleeping patterns?"

Caffeine is one the most widely consumed drugs in the world. In an effort to abstain from caffeine, many people turn to decaffeinated coffee, but researchers say they may be unaware that these decaf beverages also contain caffeine.  The amount of caffeine in decaffeinated beverages is minute (approximately 5 mg/cup), however it is the quantity you are consuming.  If you are drinking 2, 3, or 4 cups of decaffeinated beverages, that can build up and become significant.  Caffeine can stay in your system to up to 8 hours!

Another question, is where you drinking this coffee.  If you are away from home, such as at a restaurant, it is possible that you may not be actually drinking decaf.  You could be served regular inadvertently (or possible on purpose). 

If you know that you are caffeine-sensitive, I would suggest you avoid it altogether when you dine out - this includes soda, and chocolate (unfortunately). Try ordering a decaffeinated or herbal tea instead.

Other factors that may lead to sleeping issues include alcohol (may cause disrupted sleep), large meals (you may feel uncomfortably full with heartburn or gas), and excessive liquids (which would cause you to have to get up to use the bathroom in the middle of the night).  Refrain from large amounts of liquids 90 minutes before bedtime.

I just read a wonderful book that contains further information about this and other food related topics written by Joy Bauer (the Today Show Nutritionist) that I would recommend called "Food Cures".  Chock full of great information and delicious (healthful) recipes.

Source: Food Cures; WebMD