Does drinking coffee in the evening interfere with sleep?

In this article, we will answer the question: “Does drinking coffee in the evening interfere with sleep?”. We will also discuss the effects of caffeine on sleep.

In addition, we will talk about how you can drink coffee in the evening, interfering less with your sleep, how much coffee you can have in a day and what you should drink instead of coffee to help you sleep.

Does drinking coffee in the evening interfere with sleep?

Drinking coffee in the evening can interfere with your sleep. Coffee and chocolate are foods considered stimulants, which contribute to the state of wakefulness and constant attention. 

The blame for this characteristic lies with caffeine, among other substances, which acts on the central nervous system, especially the brain, and interferes with one of the sleep-inducing mechanisms (1).

Why does drinking coffee in the evening interfere with sleep?

Although coffee before bedtime is often discouraged, it’s only partially detrimental to your sleep. The real issue lies in caffeine, a chemical compound in many foods and one of the most widely consumed natural stimulants worldwide.

The potency and effects of caffeine are determined by its half-life, which is how long it takes for the active decay to increase exponentially in the body. Caffeine’s half-life is around 5 hours, meaning the body still experiences 50% of its effects five hours after consumption.

When consumed before bedtime, caffeine stimulates the brain, increases heart rate, and raises body temperature, contrary to the body’s natural preparation for sleep.

Caffeine is most commonly consumed in coffee but can also be found in synthetic forms such as pills, energy drinks, and solid foods like cocoa (2,3).

What are the effects of caffeine on sleep?

Caffeine affects three aspects of sleep: time, efficiency and level of satisfaction. In short, everything that involves sleeping is affected when caffeinated consumption is unregulated and at inappropriate times.

Caffeine is widely recognized for its ability to enhance alertness and focus. This is attributed to its chemical composition, similar to adenosine, which regulates the central nervous system. 

As the day progresses and energy is utilized, adenosine levels in the bloodstream and brain rise, culminating in a peak in adenosine concentration towards the end of the day, resulting in drowsiness.

Adenosine binds to receptors in the brain, signaling tiredness and sleep to the entire body.

Caffeine works by blocking adenosine from binding to its receptors, thereby preventing the body from receiving the signal that it is tired and prolonging the state of alertness.

Moreover, caffeine can decrease the amount of deep non-REM (NREM) sleep in stages three and four of this sleep. This is a kind of deep restorative sleep. As a result, you may wake up the following day and not feel refreshed from sleep.

This low-continuity sleep can lead to the next day of daytime sleepiness, fatigue, memory difficulties, and even emotional instability.

Other effects of excessive caffeine consumption are restlessness, anxiety, stomach problems, nausea and headache (2,4,5).

How can you drink coffee in the evening, interfering less with your sleep? 5 useful tips.

You can drink coffee in the evening interfering less with your sleep by following these 5 suggestions:

  • Limit your caffeine intake.

Try to limit your caffeine intake to no more than 200-300 milligrams per day, which is roughly equivalent to one or two cups of coffee. Of course, if you are sensitive to caffeine, you may need to consume even less.

  • Time your caffeine intake.

Try to avoid drinking coffee or other caffeinated beverages in the late afternoon or evening, as this can interfere with your sleep. Instead, try to consume caffeine earlier in the day, such as in the morning or early afternoon.

  • Choose decaf or low-caffeine options.

If you enjoy the taste of coffee but want to avoid the stimulating effects of caffeine, consider drinking decaf or low-caffeine options, such as herbal tea or hot chocolate.

  • Drink water.

Drinking water can help flush caffeine out of your system and reduce its effects on your sleep. Try to drink plenty of water throughout the day, especially if you are consuming caffeine.

  • Be mindful of other sources of caffeine.

Remember that caffeine is also found in other foods and beverages, such as chocolate, tea, and soda. Be mindful of your caffeine intake and limit your consumption of these other sources (3, 6-8).

How many coffees can I have a day?

You can drink approximately 4 cups of brewed coffee, excluding consuming other caffeinated beverages on the same day. The US government agency regulating food and beverages, the FDA, recommends a maximum consumption of 400 mg of caffeine daily. 

This amount, in general terms, is not associated with adverse and dangerous effects. However, this limit varies from person to person. Each of us has an individual tolerance for caffeine based on age, hormone levels and other factors.

Some medical conditions and medications can increase an individual’s sensitivity to the effects of caffeine. 

Furthermore, if you are pregnant, attempting to conceive, breastfeeding, or have concerns regarding a specific medical condition or medication, it is advisable to consult with your healthcare provider to determine whether you should limit your caffeine intake.

The timing of caffeine intake also matters, as we have already mentioned here. How about limiting the amount and timing of that special espresso? Drinking coffee before bed is asking to have a bad night (9, 10).

What should you drink instead of coffee to help you sleep?

To help you sleep, you should drink relaxin and calming beverages without stimulant effects, such as coffee.

Herbal teas like Chamomile and Passionflower tea are popular natural remedies for insomnia and anxiety. It has been used for centuries to promote relaxation and improve sleep quality. 

They can reduce your time to fall asleep and improve overall sleep quality.

Tart cherry juice is another beverage that may help improve sleep quality. It contains melatonin, a hormone that regulates biological cycles, such as sleep-wake cycles.

Drinking tart cherry juice before bed may increase melatonin levels and improve sleep quality (11-13).


In this article, we answered the question: “Does drinking coffee in the evening interfere with sleep?”. We also discussed the effects of caffeine on sleep.

In addition, we talked about how you can drink coffee in the evening, interfering less with your sleep, how many coffees you can have in a day and what you should drink instead of coffee to help you sleep.


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