New Bad Science! Caffeine Doesn’t Stop You Sleeping

So, we’ve new and exciting research that shows that having caffeine doesn’t stop you sleeping:

Caffeine is known to be a powerful stimulant which perks up drinkers, increases alertness and promotes wakefulness. Yet a surprising new study has found that drinking tea or coffee within four hours of bedtime does not actually impact sleep at all. US researchers from Florida Atlantic University and Harvard Medical School monitored 785 people for a total of 5,164 days and nights, recording how much caffeine, alcohol and nicotine they consumed. They then compared it to sleep diaries and wrist sensors which recorded sleep duration, sleep efficiency and how quickly people woke up after drifting off. Around 40 per cent of the group admitted to drinking caffeine on at least one night of the study. Yet although nicotine and alcohol did disrupt sleep – with a night-time cigarette knocking 42 minutes off total sleep for people suffering from insomnia – caffeine had no effect.

Hmm, gosh, that is interesting, isn’t it?

And then we see this:

But the researchers say that most studies have involved small numbers of participants, in unnatural laboratory settings, where they were given caffeine tablets to mimic the effects of nighttime drinks. In contrast, the people in the new study went about their normal lives.

That is, what we’ve actually found is that people whose sleep is disturbed by caffeine tend not to take caffeine before they go to sleep. Which is really an amazing finding, isn’t it, almost as if mere human beings were rational.

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Mark MagagnaPhoenix44The Mole Recent comment authors
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The Mole
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The Mole

Probably also missing an important ‘measurable’. Caffeine probably has an effect on a nights sleep, but whether it can be picked out clearly from all the other variables and randomness that impacts each night sleep is going to be much harder.

Phoenix44
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Phoenix44

It’s just utterly meaningless. Everything is random with no controls on anything. Sleep is not independent, either of lots of factors or of the previous nights sleep. You simply cannot pick out any data that tells you anything from this.

But we know caffeine is a stimulant and we know it interferes with the natural factors that make us sleepy.

Mark Magagna
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Mark Magagna

Caffeine tablets are definitely not the same as caffeinated drinks. Among other things it is possible to die from having too many tablets, but I think it would be impossible to drink enough to kill you – your stomach would explode first.