A New Love for Coffee?
Thanks to the recent release of a certain long-awaited sitcom revival, women all over the country are celebrating common coffee with renewed enthusiasm. The fact that many of us pulled Netflix all-nighters to binge-watch the new episodes (and/or every one of the old ones) is almost certainly adding to our collective coffee-shop budgets. But while we love our coffee, and millions of people rely on it to stay awake, it’s not the best way to supplement our sleep. This post is a PSA for all those who have re-embraced stimulants as a replacement for sleep cycles.
Giving the Sandman the Slip
People want to achieve more than they have time for and to feel good while they’re doing it, and that’s why caffeine is the most popular drug in the world. To achieve just the right level of alertness during the day, we’ve been augmenting our sleep with stimulants for centuries. Every region has its variation, from coca leaves to yerba mate. If you’ve been thinking of caffeine as an all-gain-no-pain proposition, think again. It’s just a great imposter.
How Coffee Makes You Feel Awake
Though it might make your whole body feel jittery, the kick of caffeine is all in your head. Throughout your waking hours, a byproduct called adenosine builds up in your body. Its accumulation sends a message to your nervous system that makes you feel tired. When you drink or otherwise consume caffeine, it bonds to your adenosine receptors, which can’t tell the difference between caffeine and adenosine. This interference not only prevents your body from keeping track of adenosine – but it also creates a sort of traffic jam that lets feel-good brain chemicals like dopamine and glutamate get a head start. It all adds up to the awake, alert, and chipper state that for many of us makes the workday bearable. The problem is, coffee doesn’t wake us up; it just temporarily blocks the receptors in the brain that make us feel tired.
The Inevitable Caffeine Crash
A wise-ish pirate once said, “Death cannot stop true love. All it can do is delay it for a while.” Well, caffeine can’t truly eliminate tiredness, either. Blocking adenosine receptors doesn’t do anything to reduce the amount of molecules in your system, and sooner or later all those sleep chemicals are going to reach their ultimate destination. When they do, you’ll experience a crash. That’s how caffeine makes your sleep/wake cycles feel more like a roller-coaster of highs and lows than a gentle and balanced pattern.
There’s No Substitute for Great Sleep!
Kicking caffeine can be hard, but your body will thank you. Once you’ve finished your current streaming series, adjust your viewing schedule to allow an extra hour of sleep each night. Better yet, use a sleep-tracking app or device to identify your sleep cycles. Then optimize your rest by devoting just the right amount of time to shuteye every night. Sleep is the time when your brain takes out the trash, flushing away adenosine and all sorts of other destructive chemicals. Only devoting enough time to resting will prevent build-up and the shadowy specter of sleep debt.
What’s Not in your Head
If you find that you’re spending a lot more time in bed than you are sleeping, start considering environmental factors. If you can’t sleep despite having pretty ideal nighttime circumstances, there might be something biological going on, or you could just be sleeping on a worn-out bed. When it’s time to replace your mattress, talk to the sleep experts at A Goodnight Sleepstore – online or in person. We’ll help you figure out whether spending your nights in a better bed could improve how you feel during the day. We won’t make you coffee, but we’ll do everything we can to ensure you won’t need so much of it.