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Avoid Caffeine

Avoiding caffeinated foods and drinks before bed is one of the most common sleep hygiene tips (see an earlier section for more info on sleep hygiene). One of the biggest sources of caffeine is coffee, though it can also be found in tea, soft drinks, and various forms of chocolate.

Caffeine stimulates the central nervous system, keeping you alert and making it difficult to sleep. Excessively large amounts can produce nervousness, irritability, digestive problems, restlessness, muscle tremors, and anxiety, which can further contribute to insomnia. It can be easy to fall into a vicious cycle where insomnia causes you to feel drowsy during the day, which prompts you to drink more caffeine to stay awake, which then makes it even more difficult to fall asleep the following night, and so on.

If you are used to drinking coffee or other caffeinated products on a regular basis, it may not be a good idea to give them up entirely, as a sudden change like that could produce more negative effects than positive ones. Rather, you should scale back your caffeine consumption over time, and avoid drinking it in the hours leading up to sleep. It may also be a good idea to try decaffeinated products.

Scientific Studies:

The relationship between caffeine intake and poor sleep is well-established. In fact, numerous studies have used caffeine to simulate the effects of insomnia. In 1981, researchers from Tohoku University in Japan used 150mg doses of caffeine to create a model version of insomnia that could then be used to test sleep medications. Treatment with caffeine was found to reduce total sleep time and REM sleep time, as well as increasing the time it took participants to fall asleep. A similar study conducted in 1992 found that administration of caffeine resulted in significantly reduced sleep efficiency and increased difficulty falling asleep. The same effect has also been observed in studies with rats.

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