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Sleep Disorders

Relationship of Coffee with Sleeping

04/16/2010

Question:

For the last 5-6 years I have had problems getting sleep I would also wake up in the middle of the night almost daily and stay awake and most of the reason I would wake up is for passing urine (2 -3 times).Last few years I also recognise I have mild raised sugar which is now under control (GL haemoglobin < 6.5)by medication. Few months ago I shifted to regular coffee (replacing 7-8 cups/day Tea) and this sleep propblem mysteriously disappeared. Just to check I shifted back and it reappeared 2-3 days from shifting to Tea. Now I am back to coffee and It has again disppeared.Is there any connection of coffe with slep or it is merely pyschological. and is it safe to continue coffee consumption like this

Answer:

Coffee is indeed associated with sleep but not typically in the way you are describing / experiencing. Caffeine, which is found in regular coffee as well as many tea’s, is a stimulant and a diuretic (makes you urinate a lot). both which can increase arousals from sleep. Because caffeine can stay in the body for several hours after consuming it, we typically recommend not drinking any caffeinated beverages after 2 pm to prevent sleep disruption.

Usually coffee has considerably more caffeine than tea. However, there are many different tea varieties available and it’s possible that the particular tea you were using had a high caffeine content that was interrupting your sleep and making you urinate quite a bit at night. It would be interesting to know whether or not the coffee you are drinking is decaf or not. If it is indeed regular coffee, it’s not clear to me why you would sleep better switching from tea to coffee (unless you were consuming much less coffee).

Seven to eight cups of coffee per day, if that is what you’re ingesting, is a relatively large amount of coffee to take in one day. You should probably try decreasing this or switching to decaffeinated coffee (if not already doing so). A high caffeine intake via either coffee or tea may signify that you are trying to compensate for a lack of adequate sleep or chronic sleep deprivation due to a sleep disorder, especially if you become sleepier after cutting down on the amount of caffeine you take in each day. If this is the case, then I would recommend discussing this further with your physician.

It’s possible that the frequent urination at night is not related to the caffeine content of your beverages as other things can affect urinary frequency. Some of these include prostate trouble, bladder problems or diabetes. If you are taking more sugar with your tea than coffee, then this could potentially increase your blood glucose levels and increase your urinary frequency as well.

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Response by:

Aneesa M Das, MD Aneesa M Das, MD
Assistant Clinical Professor of Pulmonary, Allergy, Critical Care & Sleep Medicine
College of Medicine
The Ohio State University