How Nicotine, Caffeine, and Alcohol Affect Sleep.
Ironically, the substance that most of us chose to consume to help “wake us up”, keeps us from experiencing proper restful sleep. If everyone simply learned the secrets to sleeping properly in this book, there wouldn’t be a need for coffee!
Coffee contains caffeine, which is also present in a wide variety of junk our bodies don’t need: Cola, Pop, Candy Bars…
Caffeine increases heart rate and blood pressure, it promotes alertness and reduces fatigue. These effects can last for a few minutes or can last for up to seven hours! If you’re currently drinking caffeine, you’re putting unnecessary pressure on your awake system, which is weakening your sleep system.
Different people have different tolerance levels to caffeine, so caffeine doesn’t affect everyone’s sleep in the same way. Also, if you drink one or two cups of coffee in the morning,
it’s unlikely your sleep will be affected. However, seeing how caffeine can stay in the blood stream for hours at a time, if you drink caffeine at least 6 hours prior to sleeping, it will affect the quality of your sleep, it will be difficult for your body to enter deep sleep or spend a lot of time in deep sleep because of the stimulative effects. You might also experience frequent night time awakenings out of Stage 2 sleep.
People who drink caffeine tend to frequently get up in the middle of the night to urinate. This is the result of the body trying to detoxify itself.
The energizing effect that caffeine gives you in the morning is only temporary.
Getting just 10 minutes of high intensity light would be 10x more energizing for the rest of your day, more beneficial to your sleep system, and your health.
If you currently smoke, you might want to strongly consider the following.
Nicotine harms sleep in many ways, like caffeine, nicotine produces faster brain waves, heart rate, and breathing rate, and an increased amount of stress hormones in your blood.
Generally, if you smoke you can’t expect to get quality sleep, the stimulant effects of nicotine will prevent you from sleeping deeply, as nicotine is a poison to your whole body. Nicotine puts your whole system, including your body temperature rhythm, totally out of balance.
If you want to improve your sleep, your best choice would be to quit smoking.
Some people think that a “night cap” of alcohol will help you sleep; this couldn’t be further from the truth.
While alcohol may temporarily relax some muscles in your body, it’s extremely detrimental to your sleeping system.
Alcohol Suppresses Deep Sleep, and REM sleep!
Alcohol will suppress the 3rd, 4th, and 5th stage of sleep, which will result in a very light, un-restful sleep. Reduced REM sleep usually leads to a REM sleep rebound, in the form of intense dreaming or nightmares, which weaken your sleep for days afterwards.
Considering that most people combine alcohol with coffee to fight hang-over, this is a deadly combination for your sleep system!
Alcohol also dehydrates your body, so even small doses of it will produce un-restful sleep. As you remember, your blood vessels dilate during deep sleep to allow more blood flow to the muscles. If your body is dehydrated this process is much more difficult because dehydrated blood doesn’t flow as well through your blood vessels as fully hydrated blood.
As you learned earlier, there are two systems which really control your sleep.