Insomnia and Coffee

Wondering if your insomnia and coffee intake are related? For many years I could drink caffeinated coffee right up until I went to bed and fall asleep ten minutes later. Now I avoid coffee even in the morning - even decaf. Perhaps you think this is too extreme, especially if you need that cup of Joe to get you going in the morning.

caffeine and insomnia

Why can one person drink regular coffee at any time without sleep being affected while others are very sensitive to any amount of caffeine? I really don't know. What I do know is that people's reaction to caffeine can change as they get older. Some common reactions are increased heart rate, feeling of being "jittery," hands shaking, and just being more awake.

Insomnia and Coffee, Cortisol and Sleep

caffeine and sleep

I stopped drinking all coffee when I found out that it raises cortisol levels.  

It's not just the caffeine that can interfere with sleep, it's having elevated cortisol levels at night when they should be low. 

Some experts state that cortisol can remain elevated for up to 18 hours in the blood.

So it may not be the caffeine that keeps you awake at night - it may be cortisol.  So even a cup of coffee at 7:00 AM can still have it's effects at 10:00 at night.  Keep reading to find how I found a great substitute for my morning coffee.

How Much Caffeine is in Coffee?

How much caffeine is in coffee? Although it can vary depending on the type of beans used and the brewing time, the Mayo Clinic website reports it can be as little as 100 mg for a 16 oz cup of McDonald's coffee to over 300 mg for a 16 oz of Starbucks Pike's Place coffee.

caffeine and insomnia

When I started developing problems falling asleep, I made every possible change to help my body relax and slow down. One of those changes was to eliminate all coffee and caffeinated drinks, such as teas or Cokes. However, for those who drink lots of caffeine quitting cold turkey can result in withdrawal symptoms such as headaches, irritability and drowsiness. Gradually cut back on the amount you drink to no caffeine at all. Once you've established good sleep patterns you can try slowly re-introducing a cup of coffee in the early morning and see if it interferes with your ability to sleep at night.

What about Decaf Coffee?

Did you know that even decaf coffee has some caffeine? It can have from 2-12 mg and and even decaf coffee can interfere with your sleep if you drink it in the evening.

caffeine and insomnia

Swiss Water processed decaf coffee is the best choice for going caffeine free with your coffee. It can be up to 99.9% caffeine-free due to the Swiss Water process of caffeine removal.

Swiss Water Processed Decaf Coffee

Caffeine Content of Tea

If you are looking for something warm in the morning, start your day with herbal tea. Look for herbal teas that say "Caffeine Free." Which means there never was or is caffeine in it.

The best part of herbal teas is that you can drink them anytime of day without wondering if the tea will keep you awake tonight.

caffeine and insomnia

Teas that have caffeine are green and black teas. They do not have as much caffeine as a cup of regular coffee, but certainly enough to keep me awake if I have it at night.

According to Dr. Michael Breus, the author of Good Night: The Sleep Doctor's 4-Week Program to Better Sleep and Better Health, brewed tea has between 40 - 60 mg of caffeine while coffee has about 110 mg.

The amount of caffeine varies depending on how long the tea is brewed. It's not just hot coffees and teas that have caffeine. Sweet teas and unsweetened teas have caffeine and can disrupt one's sleep.

There are of course many herbal teas that have no caffeine and can be drank morning, noon or night. My favorite happens to be Traditional Medicines Organic Nighty Night Tea.

Traditional Medicinals Organic Nighty Night Relaxation Tea (Pack of 1), Promotes a Good Night's Sleep, 16 Tea Bags

Insomnia and Coffee Substitute

I was visiting a friend one evening who had decided to quit all caffeine. She had been really hooked on coffee especially when she developed some sleep problems - drinking it throughout the day to help give her some energy. Tea was not appealing to her so she started looking for an organic coffee substitute and found Caffeine Free Teecino Herbal Coffee.

caffeine free coffee substitute

She made me a cup and I've enjoyed this coffee substitute ever since. It can be made two ways. The first one is just like you would regular coffee - just put a couple of scoops in your coffee maker with water. The other option is single servings using tea bags.

The flavors that are available are Mocha, Almond Amaretto, Vanilla Nut, Chocolate Mint, Hazel Nut (my favorite), Mediterranean Java, and French Roast Espresso. It has no coffee beans but rather is made up of a blend of herbs, grains, fruits, and nuts, that are roasted and ground to brew and taste like coffee.

I've come to like it more than coffee with a little bit of whipped organic cream. Try it for yourself by going to Amazon here:

Teeccino Coffee Variety Pack (Vanilla Nut, Hazelnut, Chocolaté, French Roast) Chicory Herbal Tea Bags, Caffeine Free, Acid Free, 10 Count (Pack of 4)

If you want to brew several cups of herbal coffee instead of using herbal coffee "tea" bags you can do that as well.  Get the variety pack so you can find out which one you like the best.

insomnia and coffee
Teeccino Chicory Herbal Coffee Variety Pack (Vanilla Nut, French Roast, Maca Chocolaté), Caffeine Free, Acid Free, Coffee Alternative, Prebiotic, 11 Ounce (Pack of 3)

As I looked for ways to help me restore good sleep patterns, I learned that there is usually no one magic trick to good sleep. It is a combination of things - from what we drink, to regular exercise, to learning how to relax. 

However, if you are wondering if your insomnia and coffee drinking are somehow related, eliminating coffee and caffeine is a good place to start. 

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