Nothing peps up your morning or turns around your afternoon slump like a cup of tea or coffee. But the caffeine can delay your body producing melatonin, a hormone that regulates your body clock and sleep pattern. It’s pretty addictive too, so you may need some convincing before you cut back.
Leading psychologist, Mark Winwood, offers 8 good reasons to watch what you’re consuming and curb your caffeine cravings.
1. Get a better night’s sleep
Consuming caffeine, even 6 hours before bedtime, has been shown to disrupt sleep. Caffeine affects your sleep stages and cycles, influencing the amount of time spent in lighter sleep stages. It can also act as a trigger to wake you when you would naturally transition between REM (deep sleep) and Stage 1 (light sleep).
Caffeine also can influence your circadian rhythm; even one coffee after dinner can delay the production of melatonin by about 40 minutes, shifting your body clock.
If you need an boost – but don’t want to reach for a tea or coffee – there are some great caffeine-free pick-me-ups available.
2. Have a calmer life and feel less stressed
Caffeine stimulates the central nervous system within just 15 minutes of you finishing that cup – and the effects can last for hours.
Caffeine also increases your stress hormones (catecholamines.) This kicks off a chain reaction – releasing cortisol and increasing insulin – which can leave you feeling stressed rather than giving you the boost you wanted.
Stress can have a very real impact on your body, as well as your mental health, as shown in our infographic, 7 signs of stress on your body. But there are all sorts of ways to help manage stress that you can try. Take a look at our article, 80 ways to reduce stress for our experts' own top tips for keeping calm and carrying on!
3. Fewer tummy grumbles
Studies suggest that coffee could contribute to acid reflux and heartburn. It also irritates the gallbladder and colon, which may cause stomach pain and irregular bowel movements. If you're someone who suffers with these sorts of issues, our article, how to have a healthy gut has more ways to improve your digestive health.
4. Reduce urinary incontinence
Coffee irritates the bladder and can make existing incontinence worse. There are several lifestyle changes you can make to reduce incontinence, and cutting back on caffeine is an important one. See our Ask the Expert Q&A on urinary incontinence for more on this condition.
5. Improve your fertility
Quality sleep and less stress is a potent combination if you’re trying to start a family, so this small lifestyle change could help you fulfil your grand family plan.
6. Bigger, healthier babies
You don’t have to abstain completely, but too much coffee during pregnancy has been linked to low birth weight, so drinking less is recommended.
7. Get your X-Factor smile
Some caffeinated drinks, like coffee and fizzy drinks, are dental disasters – whether for sugar content or for staining your teeth. Drink more water and you’ll have more to smile about.
8. Don’t mix caffeine and alcohol
There’s a trend among young people to consume energy drinks – and mix them with alcohol. Caffeine can mask the depressant effects of alcohol and research suggests that drinkers who consume alcohol mixed with energy drinks are 3 times more likely to binge drink.
Further reading and resources
Cutting out caffeine - AXA Health
Sleep - AXA Health hub
Diet and nutrition - AXA Health hub