A new study has found that coffee consumed at night will help you sleep less and gain more than half an hour of life in your day.
Kenneth Wright Jr., study co-author, sleep researcher, and professor from the University of Colorado (Boulder), the Department of Integrative Physiology, gave a statement explaining that drinking coffee a couple of hours before you usually go to bed does not simply keep you awake, but “It’s also pushing your [internal] clock later so you want to go to sleep later”.
However, the research team also says that disrupting your body’s internal clock may lead to sluggishness in the first half of the day. But it’s worth mentioning that they have not investigated how drinking coffee in the early hours of the morning, or at any other point in the day, may affect your body’s internal clock.
The internal clock is known for regulating sleep / wake cycles and other biological rhythms. Earlier studies have indicated that caffeine consumption can change the internal clocks of species and organisms such as fruit flies, algae, and maybe even mice.
Professor Wright admits that further research needs to be conducted as the study he and his colleagues published was very small – it only looked at five (5) people. The researchers followed them for 49 days and documented how their internal clocks changed when they were asked to drink a capsule of caffeine three (3) hours before they normally went to bed.
The caffeine capsule was adjusted to each subject’s body mass index (BDI) to be the equivalent of a double espresso. But some of the subjects received a placebo capsule, as a measure of control.
In addition to this, Professor Wright and his colleagues also exposed their subjects to either bright light or dim light, as bright light is believed to reset the internal clock and make individuals go to be later.
The results showed that caffeine consumption mixed with exposure to bright light delayed the internal clocks of the subjects by 40 minutes. The working theory is that caffeine has an effect on the signaling within cells, and as a consequence disrupts one of the core components of the cells’ internal clock.
The study has been well received in the scientific community. Jamie Zeitzer, sleep researcher and assistant professor of behavioral sciences and psychiatry from Stanford University, gave a statement of his own praising the study for suggesting that caffeine does more than just keep people alert.
However, he also pointed out that the number of subjects was much too small, making it hard to generalize the findings.
Another potential flaw of the study is that it mixed caffeine consumption with exposure to bright light therapy, rather than investigate the effects of caffeine consumption alone.
But professor Zeitzer went on to add that this mix may prove to be of great help “as a typical countermeasure for jet lag or shift work”.
But if you’d like to be an early bird, the findings can be of use to you as well as Professor Wright informed that “Removing coffee from your diet or just having it in the morning might help you achieve earlier bedtimes and wake times”.
The study was published earlier this week, on Wednesday (September 16, 2015), in the journal Science Translational Medicine.
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