Preferring coffee over a good night's sleep for that daily jolt might land you in trouble, for a new study has found that having caffeine for boosting energy might mask serious sleep problems.
The study, led by Dr. Joshua Septimus, an internist with The Methodist Hospital in Houston, stated that the energy, which a person gets from caffeine, could just be derived from night's sleep.
"Most will use caffeine to push their bodies to the extreme, when they could get just as much energy from good night's sleep," Septimus said.
Caffeine is a stimulant that is naturally produced in the leaves and seeds of many plants, and affects the central nervous system. It makes most people feel more energetic, alert, and productive, until its effects wear off.
Heavy doses of caffeine, i.e. between 500 and 600 milligrams or about four to seven cups of coffee, would not only cause difficulty in sleeping, but could also increase a person's heart rate, cause muscle tremors, and headaches.
Doctors have recommended drinking of not more than 200 milligrams of caffeine a day.
"Put it this way, having more than 20 ounces of coffee in one sitting is already too much caffeine for one day, and many of us have two or three a day," Septimus said.
Those of who rely on caffeine to stay awake need to find out why they are having problems sleeping.
Septimus said that many people suffer from obstructive sleep apnea and are not aware of the problem. This condition, which is an obstruction of the airway, causes people to stop breathing during sleep. Most people wake up from a deep sleep hundreds of times a night, and when they finally get up in the morning, they are exhausted, and head straight for the caffeine drinks to make it through the day.
"This condition has been associated with sudden cardiac death, strokes, and sleep deprivation so it's best to check with a physician sooner than later," Septimus said.
Sleep deprivation has been associated with car accidents, and can also lead to serious health conditions such as depression, high blood pressure, and memory loss if not properly taken care of.
"Most people don't realize how much more productive and vibrant they would feel if they could get eight solid hours of sleep a night," Septimus said.
"Masking your bad sleep habits with high energy caffeine drinks or multiple cups of high priced coffee, while it might provide a short-term spark, will do nothing to cure the underlying problem, and make you feel better in the long run," he added.