Caffeine & Sleep Deprivation

Most of us think that having that extra cup of coffee after lunch will keep us awake, but not if we’re constantly sleep-deprived.  Sure, a brief sugar rush or burst of caffeine will temporarily counteract lack of sleep, but overall performance is dependent on the amount of sleep someone gets on a nightly basis.

Coffee, for example, is one of the most widely consumed stimulants in the world.  Why?  Caffeine can improve our mood.  It can be used to alter our mental state and improve cognitive performance.  While caffeine may improve the ability to stay awake, errors can still be made (i.e. car accidents).  Researchers from the sleep lab at Michigan State University noted that caffeine will “only get you so far”, in terms of cognition. 

Caffeine does not in any way replace a full night of sleep, but it’s more accessible, and that’s what people want.  Who has time to sleep?  The more our body gets used to increased caffeine intake, the greater the chance that we have of withdrawal from it.  Excess intake of caffeine during the day can lead to insomnia or other sleep disorders at night.  This is a detrimental cycle. 

Throughout the course of the pandemic, insufficient sleep is a problem that has intensified.  If we consistently lack adequate sleep, we will never be able to “catch up”. 

Finding that we are fatigued on a daily basis, and if we are starting to lose cognitive function, then the amount of sleep we’re getting must be assessed.  Drinking that extra coffee won’t solve the problem.

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