Getting a good night’s sleep is one of man’s ultimate goals. You’ve been out working all day, earning a few bucks, burning up energy and simply getting drained physically and mentally. Some days like that, you don’t even think about dinner; just a warm shower and good SLEEP. But there’s often the temptation to take a nice cold drink from the fridge. My advice: Don’t take a soda! It may ruin your sleep!
Drinking soda before bed can cause insomnia. If you’re getting less than 5 hours of sleep at night, which is not ideal you may want to be more conscious of what you drink before bed.
Sodas are the main source of sugar in the American diet. It is a major cause of sleeplessness, and along with lack of sleep, it is largely associated with obesity. There are other conditions such as diabetes and heart diseases related to consumption of soda and other sugary beverages. But that is a matter for another day. This post is about drinking soda before bed, and why it is bad for you.
What are the effects of Soda before bed?
There are quite a number of effects of having soda before bed. A recent study found that people who slept for less than 5 hours were those who drank 26% more regular soda and 33% more caffeinated beverages than those who slept as much as 7 or 8 hours. The high consumption of sodas also showed severe sleep disorders among such people.
Sleeplessness experienced from consumption of soda is due largely to the presence of caffeine and not so much as the sugar content, says Aric Prather, an Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at the University of California, San Francisco. Caffeine tends to block the binding of a certain chemical in the brain which causes us to feel tired. It is this feeling that keeps people awake.
In a 2016 study of about 19,000 adults, it wasn’t quite ascertained if it was soda consumption that caused people to sleep less or if it was sleep deprivation that caused people to take more soda. It did, however, establish a connection where one enforces the other.
There have also been several studies that show a relationship between soda consumption and sleep deprivation even among children. The impact goes beyond sleep deprivation to what people who stay awake do. For some, they spend that time eating, Others decide to be productive and do some work, taking more soda and caffeine so they can stay awake.
This habit soon becomes a dangerous circle of sleeplessness, weight gain, poor diet and other chronic diseases.
Do Energy Drinks affect Sleep?
The major contents of energy drinks are Caffeine, Guarana and Sugars, according to healthland. Also, the Caffeine content of energy drinks is not currently regulated by authorities. Some brands have as high as 500mg of caffeine in a 24 oz can.
Guarana, on the other hand, is simply a Brazilian term for more caffeine. That’s putting it lightly though. Guarana is a common plant in South America that contains guaranine, a caffeine compound. There is at least 40mg of caffeine in every gram of Guarana. But this is often not indicated as part of the caffeine content of energy drinks.
Then there are sugars of different types. Whether it is sucrose, high fructose corn syrup or glucose, a typical 8 oz energy drink can contain close to 70g of sugars. Two energy drinks daily translate to about 150g of sugar, which is far beyond the recommended daily dose of sugar in our diet
So, what you have in a typical energy drink is caffeine, more caffeine, sugar and some other ingredients including ginseng (a controversial herb which may cause insomnia in itself), and taurine. It is already known that caffeine causes sleeplessness. Sugar, on the other hand, boosts energy levels and may keep the mind active further into your sleep time.
When should you have your last caffeinated drink for the day?
Caffeine is a stimulant, and a fast one at that. It works on the human nervous system and can increase the heart rate and blood pressure. It can also boost energy levels and, for some people, it helps with mood. These are the reasons caffeinated drinks are popular. Unfortunately, all of these feelings will also make it extremely difficult for you to fall asleep. And you may stay awake for as long as the caffeine remains in your body.
This is true because Caffeine is a drug. It acts as antagonist to adenosine; a substance in the human body that triggers sleepiness. By blocking this substance, caffeine makes it difficult for you to feel sleepy.
AsapScience explains this very well in their video
You may ask, how long does caffeine remain in the body? This is difficult to answer because there are a number of factors that determine the duration. But the American Academy of Sleep Medicine provides a very useful insight. According to the Academy, caffeine has a half-life of about 5 hours- around the time it takes your body to get rid of half the drug. The other half can take a long time before it leaves your body.
My advice is; if you must, take your caffeinated drinks at least 7 hours before bed time. Ideally, no more than 100mg of caffeine during lunch (12-1pm) should do. That gives you the energy boost you need for the rest of the day, a moderate dose to derive the right benefits, and ample time for your body to eliminate most of it before bed.
What should you drink before bed?
Water is good for most part of the day to keep you hydrated, but taking water just before bedtime may affect your sleep cycle and this can affect your heart in some way. So, what drinks can you take before bed? I’ve got a couple of ideas for you, as recommended by health and nutrition experts.
This can be any kind from chamomile, ashwagandha and valerian teas to peppermint tea. Teas that do not contain caffeine, but have great soothing effects are considered a great way to eliminate insomnia. Chamomile, for instance is a natural flower from the Asteraceae family. Studies have found that daily intake of chamomile tea helped with anxiety and insomnia.
Extracts from the roots, leaves and berries of Ashwagandha have been proven as useful therapy against stress and anxiety. A daily dose of this can help with sleep. Peppermint tea, on the other hand, contains properties that can help with indigestion and irritable bowel that may disrupt sleep.
Firstly, it’s not what you think so not go gulping away your full-cream gallon of milk just before bed. You may feel bloated all night. Almond milk, malted milk or goats’ milk are a good way to get you sleeping as they contain essential minerals that release melatonin which is a sleep-inducing hormone
I know how much you love your cherry pie. Extracting the juice as a drink can also significantly improve your sleep time and habit. The tryptophan in cherries- an amino acid that produces melatonin- helps to regulate sleeping and waking up. Cherries can be sweet, sour or tart. Although these varieties contain melatonin, the tart cherries contain almost 6 times the amount of melatonin in the other variants.
What should you do if you can’t sleep after drinking soda?
While there is no known scientifically proven way to douse the effect that soda can have on you after consuming it, staying hydrated can help can help eliminate it from the body. However, drinking too much water just before bed can disrupt your sleep by waking you up at night to go to the toilet.
If you’re struggling with sleep after consuming soda, you can start by setting up a routine for sleep:
Wash you face gently using warm water. Then give it time. You can pick up a book and read or listen to soft music. Avoid the temptation to start planning for the next day’s work. This may not help immediately, but it should help you relax a bit and perhaps get some sleep.
The sleep-inducing drinks I talked about above may also help with triggering sleep in such a trying time. However, a more lasting approach would be to avoid sodas at least 7 hours before bed. It is also important to maintain good bedroom habits.
Your bedroom is not for movies, eating, or listening to radio; it is for sleep. If you introduce or have been doing any of these it will be hard for your brain to disassociate them and your brain will be active
As you cut down on sodas, begin to teach your body a new sleep schedule. This includes having a specific time for bed and waking up. Over time, your body will get used to this new routine.
For tonight, you may still need to let the soda work its way out of your body, whilst you’re teasing your brain with other stuff to help you sleep.
Getting at least 7 hours of sleep daily is a hard thing to do for most people. But you need that much sleep to keep your body and mind intact, refreshed and energized for the next day.
Sodas are popular, no doubt. But you should keep them out of your diet after lunch. Even with that, you should reduce the amount you take. Most soda brands contain two things you should take moderately; caffeine and sugar. So be safe and enjoy your sleep time.