Like many people, coffee holds a special and essential place in my morning routine. The winter sun rises slower than I do each morning, and a nice warm cup of coffee is the perfect bribe to get me out of bed.
While two cups per day will usually be enough for me, the dark and cool weather of winter occasionally means I’ll indulge in an extra one or two. This got me wondering if my sleep pattern has been affected. It hasn’t…yet, however everyone is different, so I thought I’d look into at what point caffeine consumption becomes too much.
Coffee, Coffee, Everywhere!
It’s no secret that coffee is one of the most consumed beverages on the planet, third only to water and tea. You can’t open your eyes here in Melbourne without spotting a hole in the wall hipster coffee spot, and you’ll stumble across a fair few cafes on your way to work. Even the local convenience stores offer a reasonable $1 self-serve coffee, for those on the go. And we’re starting earlier, staying later and working harder throughout the day. The conditions are perfect for a thriving coffee industry, and it’s growing customer base.
This ease of access to caffeine, mixed with the fast nature of our modern lives often plays into multiple cups of coffee-goodness each day. Sure, the dent in the wallet by the end of the week is usually a reminder to slow down a little. But too much coffee goes further than simply blowing out your weekly budget.
How much coffee is too much?
Although an exact definition on what “too much coffee” is differs from country to country, the general consensus from research seems to indicate that “400 milligrams of caffeine a day, appears to be safe for most healthy adults” (MayoClinic, US). This works out to be around four filter cups a day – around six espressos on American caffeine figures. Now, although our American cousins like to think they ‘supersize’ everything…a Vente pumpkin-spiced latte anyone? In Australia, we tend to have a higher-dose espresso shot so it’s recommended to keep it under four shots a day, down-under.
However, as I mentioned before, everyone is different. There are a few simple steps that you can use to avoid drinking too much coffee and make sure you don’t affect your sleep:
- Invest in a Garmin or Fitbit, which gives you the means to keep track of your sleep cycles and how that extra cup or two through the day affect your slumber.
- A little bit of honest cup-accounting, the best way to know how much coffee you’ve had each day is also the hardest to keep track of.
- Make your own brew. This will not only help you save money, but you’ll also be able to track each cup you’ve had throughout the day.
- Know what time is too late for coffee – Caffeine has a half-life of around 5 to 6 hours, so plan ahead if you’re considering an afternoon coffee. If you go to bed at 10:00pm, you should have your last cup no later than 4:00pm.
Next time you’re thinking of adding an extra cup of coffee to your day, it might be worth opting for a decaf or another hot drink (maybe even a Hot-Chocolate) to help warm you up. Because, who doesn’t like a warm cup of delicious chocolate? It might be a few extra calories, but your sleep will definitely thank you for it!
As always, please let me know if there are any particular topics you would love us to look into or you have any queries or concerns.
You can call me on 03 9963 4804 or email me directly.