According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, or CDC, an estimated 50 to 70 million US denizens are chronically sleep-deprived. We've busy schedules, many responsibilities, and many distractions that consume our time. But two other reasons for the "sleepless epidemic" can be attributed to nicotine and caffeine.
Coffee's ubiquitous-----just look at all the coffee shops found in almost every street corner, the coffee offered at the office, the coffee at your gas station, the coffee at your favorite fast food place, and the coffee advertised on both radio and television. The factor that makes coffee such a potent beverage is its caffeine. And caffeine can also be found in tea, soda, and chocolate. Meanwhile, the National Sleep Foundation’s conducted a poll entitled "Sleep in America," wherein it was discovered that "43 percent of Americans are 'very likely' to consume caffeine to stay alert during the day."
Why does caffeine get our attention (pun intended)? For one, it can quickly raise alertness albeit temporarily-----caffeine temporarily augments alertness by boosting adrenaline production which in turn interferes with the body's natural chemicals that promote or induce sleep. Interestingly, caffeine works fast because it can be absorbed rapidly (within 15 minutes) after ingestion. However, because caffeine is a stimulant, it can impede sleep. What is considered a "moderate" amount of caffeine consumption per day is 250 milligrams, which equals about three 8-ounce cups of coffee. Excessive consumption is anything more than 300 milligrams per day, or anything more than four cups of coffee. It should be noted that caffeine lasts in the body for a relatively long time-----after six hours, only half of the caffeine consumed is eliminated. As a result, caffeine causes insomnia. Besides, excess caffeine leads to frequent urination, and the multiple trips to the bathroom at night will certainly keep one from having a full night's sleep.
Withdrawal from caffeine can also keep you up at night because of "the increased autonomic responses--jitteriness, nausea, increased heart rate, headaches, and irritability...all completely opposite from the relaxed serenity required for good quality sleep," says Dr. David C. Brodner, MD, medical director of the Center for Sleep, Allergy, and Sinus Wellness in Boynton Beach, Florida.
Nicotine likewise causes less sleep, for it, too, is a stimulant with withdrawal symptoms much like those of caffeine. Other sleep disturbances are created by nicotine, such as smokers sleeping only lightly because the side effects of nicotine prevent smokers from reaching deeper sleep. In other words, smokers are less likely to have restorative sleep, especially when withdrawal symptoms start appearing closer to morning hours, leaving smokers automatically waking up to get their next dose of nicotine.
And so, one approach to having better-quality sleep that is both restorative and restful is to cut back on caffeine and nicotine intakes. Moreover, you won't have to be groggy as you face a new day full of obligations. You'll be even healthier eliminating both caffeine and nicotine from your daily ingestion habits.