Sleep expert urges people to avoid coffee after 3pm

avoid coffee after 3pm

Caffeine, the active ingredient in coffee, disrupts sleep by blocking the effects of adenosine, a chemical that promotes sleepiness by accumulating throughout the day. By inhibiting adenosine receptors, caffeine promotes alertness and reduces the sensation of fatigue. This can delay sleep onset and reduce overall sleep duration, particularly when consumed in the late afternoon or evening. Furthermore, whilst having high levels of caffeine in the body might not affect how quickly certain individuals fall asleep, it can impair sleep quality and cause a less deep sleep.  

A study published in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine found that caffeine consumed even 6 hours before bedtime can disrupt sleep, sometimes delaying sleep onset by over an hour. 

Edward Gorst, Sleep Coach and Resident Sleep Expert for Panda London:  

Should we avoid having coffee after 3pm? 

As a sleep coach, understanding the effects of caffeine on sleep for my clients is crucial. Coffee, energy drinks and tea all contain caffeine, a powerful stimulant that acts on the central nervous system to increase alertness and energy levels. However, consuming coffee in the late afternoon or evening can interfere with your ability to fall asleep and maintain deep, restorative sleep. 

Caffeine has a half-life of about 5-6 hours, meaning it can stay in your system for a significant period of time. When you drink coffee after 3 pm, there’s a good chance that some of the caffeine will still be active in your system when you’re trying to sleep later in the evening. This lingering stimulant effect can delay sleep onset, reduce total sleep time, and decrease the quality of sleep by reducing deep sleep stages.  

How does drinking coffee in the afternoon affect our sleep quality? 

The impact of drinking coffee in the afternoon and evening on sleep quality is considerable. Whilst you’re asleep any caffeine in your system can reduce slow-wave sleep, which is the deepest and most restorative stage of sleep. It can also decrease the total sleep duration and increase the frequency of waking during the night. This disruption in sleep patterns can lead to a feeling of grogginess or tiredness the following day, contributing to a cycle of increased caffeine consumption to combat daytime sleepiness. 

What is the best time of day to stop drinking coffee? Should we limit our intake? 

To maintain optimal sleep quality, the best time to stop drinking coffee is in the early afternoon, preferably before 3 pm. Limiting moderate caffeine intake to the morning hours allows your body to metabolise the stimulant by bedtime, reducing its impact on sleep. It’s also advisable to limit overall caffeine consumption, as excessive intake can lead to increased tolerance, dependency, and other health issues. Similarly the effects of caffeine are also cumulative and so drinking too much of it at any time of day can to some degree impair sleep quality.  

In summary, avoiding coffee after 3 pm and limiting overall caffeine intake are beneficial practices for supporting good sleep quality and maintaining healthy sleep patterns. If you’re experiencing sleep disturbances, consider reducing your caffeine consumption to see if it improves your sleep. 


The sleep study:,by%20more%20than%201%20hour. 

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