Caffeine-containing foods top the list of foods that wake you up.
- As a stimulant, caffeine speeds up the action of not only the nervous system, but of other major body systems, too. Within fifteen minutes of downing a cup of coffee, the level of adrenaline in your blood rises, which triggers an increase in heart rate, breathing rate, urinary output, and production of stomach acids. Basically, caffeine’s effects are the reverse of what you want to happen as you go to sleep.
- Caffeine also prompts adrenal hormones to release sugar stored in the liver, which stimulates sugar cravings to replenish the stores. Caffeine heightens the roller coaster effect of blood sugar swings, producing a quick high after a morning cup of coffee, followed by a downturn in the afternoon.
Caffeine’s effects in the body are sort of like the law of gravity: what goes up must come down. The morning jolt is often followed by afternoon doldrums. Caffeine also makes it difficult to sleep well.
Know your caffeine quota.
Some persons are more caffeine-sensitive than others. Many adults can take up to 250 milligrams of caffeine a day (the average amount in 21/2 cups of coffee) and experience no sleep problems. Others get jitters after one cola.
Time your caffeine boost.
For most people, the effects of caffeine wear off within six hours, so coffee in the morning will usually not interfere with sleep in the evening. Caffeine-containing beverages at lunch may not affect your sleep, but coffee, tea, or cola in the evening is likely to keep you awake.
CAFFEINE AND KIDS
Many school-age children get squirrelly following a jolt of caffeine-containing cola. Kids who are already hyperactive may be bouncing off walls following a caffeine jolt. Best to limit children’s caffeine consumption to less than 50 milligrams a day, no more than one 12-ounce cola. Avoid beverages that have added caffeine, touted for their energy-boosting effects. Children should not be exposed to the addicting effects of to the caffeine buzz.
Know what foods contain the most caffeine.
As you can see from the chart, coffee, colas, and tea rank highest in caffeine content.
FOOD CAFFEINE (mg.) coffee, brewed, 6 ounces 105 coffee, instant, 6 ounces 55 Mountain Dew, 12 ounces 55 Colas, 12 ounces 35-45 Tea, 6 ounces 35
Contrary to what we are led to believe, chocolate is not high in caffeine. Two chocolate chip cookies may contain less than 5 milligrams of caffeine, a packet of cocoa mix contains 5 milligrams, and one chocolate candy bar contains around 10 milligrams. In fact, many people find chocolate desserts that also contain dairy products to actually be a sleep inducer because of the combination of tryptophan and carbohydrates.
To get the taste of tea with less of a caffeine jolt, recycle the tea bag. Discard the first cup of tea made from the tea bag, which contains the most caffeine, and make another cup. Also, don’t squeeze the tea out of the tea bag, as these drops of tea contain more caffeine. Try grain-based hot beverages and caffeine-free herbal teas as alternatives to coffee and tea.
Some over-the-counter cold and headache remedies are high in caffeine. Check the label or ask the pharmacist, especially if you are a caffeine-sensitive person.