How Drinking Caffeine At Night Can Put Your Brain In A Completely Different Time Zone

Researchers have found that drinking caffeine at night can throw off the body’s internal clock and delay sleeping patterns by as much at 40 minutes. This delay reportedly occurs after consuming caffeine products like coffee or tea three hours before bedtime. If drinking behavior is continuous, is have been found to affect more than just sleeping patterns. Lead researcher Dr. Kenneth Wright attests to how caffeine consumption so close to bedtime alerts the body’s internal clock.

“This particular finding tells us that the timing of sleep and wakefulness will be pushed later because of an effect on the clock, not just promoting wakefulness chemicals in the brain.”

The study, which was carried out by researchers at the University of Colorado-Boulder, was first tested on animals and other living organisms, namely, snails, red bread mold, fruit flies, and green algae, according to the Times Gazette. Though researchers were expecting different results in human studies, they found that humans are just as affected by night-time caffeine ingestion as all other living beings. Here is what happened when the researcher trailed five human night-time caffeine drinkers over a period of 49 days.

The trial participants were studied under four manipulation phases: bright light, bright light with caffeine, dim light, and dim light with caffeine. During the study, participants were asked to swallow a caffeine pill with caffeine levels equivalent to that found in a double espresso. This serving was taken three hours before bedtime. All five of the study subjects struggled to fall asleep, and researchers discovered that sleep assisting hormones like melatonin has significantly different measurements than usual. In other words, the caffeine consumption completely shifted the circadian clocks of each participant.

Based on the information in the study, night-time caffeine drinking is only half of the issue. Consuming caffeine drinking in the morning and noon can be just as effective in disrupting sleep patterns in humans. However, with the bad news that caffeine at night could alter the brain into believing that it is in a different time zone, the findings also show that caffeine could be the key to curing jet lag caused by international travel. According to Dr. Wright, using caffeine for the reserve effect could be very helpful for traveling individuals.

“Another example of an implication of our findings is we may be able to use caffeine to help shift our clocks westward when we’re traveling across many time zones. In this case here, caffeine may help us adapt to jet lag must faster.”

[Image via Getty Images/Credit: Cultura RM/Manuela Larissegger]

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