Caffeine – America’s favorite drug
It’s true; Clean, mycotoxin-free (mold-free) caffeine from sustainable sources can be a very effective stimulant to get us through the day performing and feeling our best.
Just be careful how much, and when, you consume it though.
Caffeine (C₈H₁₀N₄O₂) has a biological half-life of 3 to 7 hours in adults¹ (let’s say 5 hours for the below example).
Here’s what that means:
Half-life is the time required for a quantity to reduce to half its initial value. So if you have 16 ounces of coffee (about 190 milligrams of caffeine) at 11 A.M., then at 4 P.M. you will be left with 95 mg. At 9 P.M., when bedtime is approaching, you will still have 47.5 mg of caffeine buzzing around in your system. At 2 A.M., there is still 23.75 mg left. At this point, the caffeine is wreaking havoc on your REM sleep cycles. Poor sleep quality is linked to all sorts of negative health externalities.²
Now consider some of the other ways we consume caffeine: tea, soft drinks like Coke, chocolate and even painkillers.
The FDA reported that the average American consumes a whopping 300 mg of caffeine per day!³
How caffeine works:
Caffeine acts as an antagonist in the way it interacts with adenosine receptors in the plasma membrane of every cell. When adenosine binds to its receptors, neural activity slows down (no racing thoughts) and you feel sleepy. Caffeine opposes this process, creating the opposite effect; The blockage of the adenosine A1 receptor leads to an increase in heart rate upon caffeine intake. Caffeine increases the effect of norepinephrine in the body, which raises heart rate and blood pressure, increases blood flow to skeletal muscle, and triggers the release of glucose from energy stores.⁴Surely this explains why caffeine is classified as a stimulant, and thus, an obvious inhibitor of sleep.²
Now, I’m not saying caffeine is bad for you; I actually think it has some great benefits. We’re just caffeine-aholics, and as such, we should monitor when and how much caffeine we consume.
Have one, 8-ounce coffee (95 mg of caffeine) around 8:00 A.M. This way, by 1:30 A.M., when you should be in your deepest sleep, you will have a very small amount of caffeine left in your system (less than 10 mg).
Have no coffee, tea, chocolate, etc. at all and have 0 mg in your system 🙂
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To maximizing health,
Jordan Paris, NASM CPT