October 1–7 is Sleep Awareness Week and this year, the focus is on the role caffeine plays in our society and the question “could caffeine be masking a sleep disorder?”.
There can be a great deal of pleasure and positivity surrounding the drinking of caffeine. Caffeine is a naturally occurring substance that affects the brain and behaviour. It can be found in many different drinks and foods, including tea, coffee, chocolate, soft drinks (particularly energy drinks) and some medications.
If you find yourself desperate for shots of caffeine during the day, there might be an underlying cause such as a sleep disorder. This might be sleep apnea, where breathing is paused during sleep, and you are unaware that this is making sleep light and fragmented. Also, high caffeine consumption or caffeine too close to bed may be reducing the quality of your sleep. This can make you tired the next day and leave you needing those jolts of caffeine to stay on top of things!
Caffeine is a well-known stimulant, so it may help you feel more alert during the day but could increased intake be correlated with increased sleepiness? Too much caffeine can make sleeping more difficult, leading potentially to insomnia. The daytime symptoms of sleep apnea, such as sleepiness and reduced concentration, may be masked by caffeine. Further, restless legs syndrome, which can prevent sleep at night, may be made worse by caffeine and alcohol.
Caffeine can impact on sleep in a number of ways:
1) It can be harder to go to sleep.
2) Your sleep may be lighter and you may wake up more often.
3) You have to go to the toilet more during the night.
Understanding and controlling your caffeine intake is important for good quality sleep. Take the Sleep Awareness Week survey now to see if you may be suffering from a sleep disorder* https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/XP32SST or make an appointment to see your GP on 02 4302 3333.
* The survey is anonymous and no information will be passed on to third parties. Source: www.sleephealthfoundation.org.au