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Caffeine and Sleep Apnea

By Kim Wetmore

If you are anything like me, there is an excellent chance you look forward to a nice cup of coffee in the morning.  For me, it is the time taken to welcome the day.  Let’s face it; I do not welcome much of anything before I have had a cup of coffee in the morning.   Now, do you know how caffeine affects you?  Did you know that what time of day you consume caffeine has a lot to do with how it works for or against you?  I did a little research on caffeine and the things we believe about it, though some of this stuff may not be true, and here is what I found.

Those who consume caffeine tend to do it out of a need for productivity, energy, and a feeling of alertness.  Does this sound familiar?  Is this how you felt before you were diagnosed with sleep apnea and began treatment?  Did it work?  Depending on how you ingest caffeine, be it in a simple cup of coffee or maybe one of those ever popular energy drinks, it may work, but only for a time.  What happens is that caffeine enters the body and goes to work quickly, but it can wear off just as quickly after a few hours and then you are right back where you started, needing more.  Wouldn’t a healthy night’s sleep be more efficient?

Maybe you love to snack on chocolate.  Who doesn’t?  Did you know chocolate is a source of caffeine?  Did you know caffeine is also found in decaffeinated coffee, non-cola soda drinks, some ice creams, weight loss products, pain relievers and even some breath fresheners?   It is important to know when you are ingesting caffeine if you are making an effort to improve your sleep!  It is equally important to avoid consuming caffeine in the afternoon.  Since it does do its job for a few hours, this could cut into the time you need in the evening to settle down for the night.

What’s important here is to know that caffeine is not necessarily bad for you.  There are even some studies out there reporting that caffeine can reduce the risk of liver disease, type II diabetes and dementia.  The main idea is moderation.  It is recommended by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine to limit consumption to no more than 300-400 mg per day (less than four 8 oz cups) to feel less sleep-depriving effects while still benefitting from caffeine’s good qualities!

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