Caffeine and Sleep

Due to overloaded schedules, students are often left in a position of relying on caffeine or sleeping pills to moderate their wake/sleep patterns. Although they may seem like a good short-term solution, they can actually have a negative impact on your sleep cycle.

Being a post-secondary student often involves working and studying outside of the regular 9-5 hours and can result in fatigue and performance impairments. One of the most common ways to cope with a lack of sleep is by drinking caffeine.

Caffeine is one of the most popular drugs in the world. A lot of foods and beverages contain caffeine, including chocolate, tea, and “energy drinks”. In small doses, caffeine can make us feel more alert and improve motor coordination by blocking sleep-inducing chemicals in the brain and increasing adrenaline production.

There is no nutritional need for caffeine in the diet. Moderate caffeine intake, however, is not associated with any recognized health risk. According to the Dieticians of Canada, women of childbearing age should consume no more than 300mg caffeine/day, and men should consume no more than 400mg caffeine/day.

Risks Associated with Excessive Caffeine

    • Reduction of fine motor coordination
    • Can cause difficulty falling and staying asleep if consumed up to 6 hours before sleep
    • Cause headaches, nervousness, and dizziness
    • Anxiety
    • Irritability
    • Rapid heartbeat
    • Excessive urination
    • A “caffeine crash” once the effects wear off

Caffeine Quantities in Common Products


Caffeine Quantity (mg)
Tim Horton’s Coffee (medium) 100
Tim Horton’s Decaf Coffee (medium) 6
Black Tea (250ml) 44
Green Tea (250ml) 26
Starbucks Coffee (tall) 250
Red Bull (8.46 fl oz can) 80
Monster (16 fl oz can) 160
Coca-Cola (355ml can) 32
Pepsi (355ml can) 38
Hershey’s Milk Chocolate Bar 9
Hershey’s Dark Chocolate Bar 25
5 Hour Energy (1 bottle) 200
Stay Awake (1 tablet) 200