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Does caffeine significantly affect sleep and how long does it take?

The Caffeine Sleep relationship: Caffeine is commonly used in many drinks and beverages and predominately in coffee beans, tea leaves, and soft drinks with the highest levels of caffeine are contained in coffee. It is also be produced artificially and used in drugs as a treatment for various conditions.

Caffeine is a psychoactive used to boost alertness. However, this very same property also means that it can affect your sleeping patterns.

Let’s find out how.

How Caffeine affects your brain and sleep?

When we take a cup of coffee, the caffeine will be absorbed into the bloodstream in two main ways. These include:

  • through the stomach
  • through the small intestines.

Once in the blood, it crosses over into the brain. Here it blocks the adenosine receptors. These are sensors in your brains that detect adenosine.

But what is adenosine?

It is a chemical that our brain releases during the time that we are not asleep. With higher concentrations, it inhibits arousal and causes sleepiness with levels decreased during sleep. With the adenosine receptors blocked, we thus do not feel sleepy.

When we take caffeine before going to bed, our sleeping patterns are affected and it takes longer for us to go fall asleep.

Not having sufficient amounts of sleep can pose major health concerns such as insomnia and even heart disease.

How long are the effects of caffeine?

You will experience the most effects of caffeine after 30 to 60 minutes. That said, the effects can last for as long as 6 hours. This means that the coffee you took in the afternoon could cause you to struggle to go to bed at night.

The caffeine half-life—the time it takes for the body to process half of the caffeine is between 4-6 hours. This translates to how long one can expect to experience the effects of caffeine.

How caffeine affects sleep?

Studies show that taking too much caffeine can affect sleep duration, and sleep satisfaction. It is especially known to disrupt slow-wave sleep. This is when you get into a deep, unconscious sleep that helps reset the body’s natural circadian rhythm. This results not only in a lack of sufficient sleep but also daytime fatigue, lack of concentration and poor memory, and poor emotional control.

Consuming coffee up to six hours before going to sleep can result in up to one hour of loss of sleep.

Relationship with insomnia

While taking caffeine has some benefits, too much of it can cause insomnia or difficulty in falling asleep. If one already has pre-existing insomnia, caffeine can make it worse. Sleep quality reduces significantly.

On the other end of the spectrum, some people tend to feel sleepy after drinking caffeine. This is often because taking caffeine causes one to lack sleep at night which causes them to become sleepy during the normal daytime hours. Such people may often seek to drink even more caffeine to try and remain awake during the day. This in turn results in a vicious cycle.

Other times, the feeling of sleepiness comes about as a result of not taking caffeine for someone who is already used to taking caffeine on a regular.

Final thoughts

Caffeine can be a great psychoactive when looking for a quick pick me up in the mood. It can help increase alertness and help boost overall productivity. However, taking in excess caffeine can affect your body’s circadian rhythm and sleep cycle. This results in poor sleep which will ultimately affect your day-to-day life.


Cameron Corish

Cameron Corish has been caring and achieving results for the local Wishart, Mansfield and Mt Gravatt community for over 10 years. Together with the Core Health Coaching Team, he takes a multi-disciplined and holistic approach to health and fitness addressing the physical, mental and emotional aspects of one’s health.  

Ready to feel and look your best?  Come in for a FREE chat and see how we can transform your life.  Call 0406 451 907 or email Cameron at


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