How Caffeine, Alcohol and Exercise Affect Sleep


What really prevents you from getting enough sleep.

After a sleepless night, you are the worst version of yourself: you think poorly, you are always distracted and frustrated in public. It is enough to just not have enough sleep 1.5 hours to care has decreased by a third.

But to spend 7-8 hours in bed does not mean to sleep. You may feel overwhelmed by sleep phases, frequent awakenings, or snoring, even if there was enough time.

Such violations are often blamed on caffeine, alcohol, and exercise shortly before bedtime. We found out what scientists think about it.

Is it true coffee can disturb sleep

Is it true coffee can disturb sleep

As a rule, for a good rest, it is advised to exclude coffee in the afternoon. And this advice did not arise from scratch. In one experiment 400 mg of caffeine (approximately four cups of coffee ) reduced the total duration of sleep, although participants took it as much as 6 hours before they went to bed. In another study 200 mg in the morning affects human sleep and EEG power spectra at night 200 mg of caffeine at 7 am so encouraged the subjects that even after 16 hours they slept less and worse than usual.

But not everything is so simple. The effect of caffeine on sleep depends on many factors, including:

Genetic background – Caffeine sensitivity is determined by different variations. A2A adenosine receptor gene. A person with one modification will have enough latte mugs to stay awake at midnight, a coffee lover with another allele will yawn half an hour after a double espresso.

Features of the environment – Scientists have suggested that caffeine interferes with sleep only with secondary insomnia triggers : light and noise at night. Indeed, a bright light for 3 hours spoils sleep more than a cup of an invigorating drink.

Reaction to stress – Coffee is more in the way people whose sleep is highly dependent on stress. The more sensitive a person is, the more careful he should handle caffeine, especially during a busy period of his life.

The presence of bad habits – Recent study showed that coffee 4 hours before bedtime does not affect its quantity and quality at all, but cigarettes are taken about 40 minutes. Since coffee and cigarettes are often paired, perhaps the reason lies in nicotine.

Analysis more than 2,000 randomly selected people showed that, taking into account gender, age, smoking and seasonal fluctuations, coffee consumption does not affect sleep problems. And here are some of these conclusions.

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-If you are looking for a cause of sleep problems, first rule out smoking and bright light (including from gadgets) at least an hour before bedtime, and then analyze the effect of coffee.

-If stress often deprives you of sleep, try caffeine free. You may be more sensitive to its effects than other people.

-If you have been drinking a lot of coffee for several years, including before going to bed, and then you suddenly have problems, look for the reason in something else.

Can exercise reduce sleep quality?

Can exercise reduce sleep quality?

Overall training help to fall asleep faster, sleep longer and better. Physical activity protects against insomnia: the more exercise, the less often it happens.

Any positive effect training: aerobic, strength, frequent and rare, intense and not very. After activity, people of all ages sleep better.

Moreever elite athletes sleep better recover more effectively and wake up less often than ordinary people after playing sports.

Training time also does not really matter. Overview 23 scientific papers on the topic showed that evening classes do not interfere with night rest. Quite the contrary – after activity, people spend a little more time in deep restoring sleep than without exercise.

Medium-intensive workouts even 30 minutes before bedtime will not prevent you from getting a good night’s sleep.

The only exception is high-intensity exercise. Daily exhausting workouts at maximum speed reduce quality of sleep and physical capabilities of the body. But only professional athletes or beginners who do not listen to their bodies at all can drive themselves into such a state.

If you build up intensity and worry about sleep quality, follow these tips.

  • Eat a high protein diet.
  • Cut back on the amount of fat.
  • Do not reduce calories.

If you have just started to exercise and have problems with rest – tolerate a little, the body adapts. When I switched to crossfit training , for several nights after unusual loads I suffered without sleep. But one week was enough for adaptation.

How alcohol affects sleep

How alcohol affects sleep

Exposure to alcohol depends on how much you drink. One dose is about 340 ml of beer, 140 ml of wine or 40 ml of strong alcohol. A moderate amount is recognized one dose for women and two for men, large – four for women and five for men.

Alcohol can have a calming effect and accelerate falling asleep, however, the quality of sleep is rapidly declining for several reasons.

The phase of REM sleep is inhibited

The phase of REM sleep is inhibited

It is also called the phase of rapid eye movement, or the BDG phase. It allows us to dream, affects memory and cognitive abilities. The first time the BDG phase begins 90 minutes after falling asleep, lasts 10 minutes and then alternates with a slow during the night, becoming increasingly longer towards the end. The average volume of alcohol, starting with two to three doses (0.4-0.8 mg of ethanol per 1 kg of body weight), is removed the onset of the BDH phase and generally reduce its duration.

This violation can cause daytime drowsiness and a decrease in concentration, adversely affect memory. As for lower doses, their effect is not so pronounced, but still exists. Alcohol may change phase and disrupt the integrity of sleep, even if at the time of falling asleep it was practically gone.

The total duration of rest is reduced

You need more time to fall asleep, it lasts less, in the second half of the night it becomes intermittent and restless. Small doses of alcohol do not reduce sleep time and may even increase it, but the quality still suffers.

The load on the heart increases

The load on the heart increases

Blood alcohol makes your heart beats in a dream more often, as in stress. This increases the load on the cardiovascular system, not giving it the proper rest. Moreover, it doesn’t matter how old you are or how active you are – the effect is preserved in any case. Even small doses reduce the restorative ability of sleep by 9.3%, and medium and large ones by 24 and 39%, respectively.

Inhibited breathing in a dream

Alcohol relaxes muscles of the upper respiratory tract and reduces their patency, increases the resistance of the nasopharynx. As a result, you do not have enough oxygen, and headaches and fatigue in the morning, concentration and attention are reduced.

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Growth hormone production decreases

It is an anabolic hormone that promotes protein synthesis and fat burning. Taking 0.8 g of ethanol per 1 kg of body weight (two to five doses) reduces plasma growth hormone levels of 70–75%. Therefore, it is especially important for athletes and those who want to improve their physical fitness to give up alcohol before bedtime.

Insomnia continues

Insomnia continues

At first, falling asleep after a couple of glasses is easier, because moderate doses have a sedative effect. However, in a week it is being developed tolerance, but a negative effect on sleep persists. You will have to drink more to fall asleep, and the quality of rest will decline, providing headaches and fatigue.

What is the result


Can prevent you from getting enough sleep if you are sensitive to caffeine, prone to stress, and in the bright light (even from your gadgets) before going to bed. If any of this is about you, drink the last mug no later than 5 pm.


Will provide you only benefit, even if you work out 30 minutes before bedtime. An exception is loads at extreme intensity, unusual or constant, leading to overtraining. If you need to do just that, follow a protein diet and eat tryptophan-rich foods to reduce your negative effects.


Has a bad effect on sleep in any amount, but moderate harm (one to two doses per day) is less harmful. Eliminate alcohol completely or try to minimize it.


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