According to University of Michigan behavioral sleep expert Dr. Deirdre Conroy, alcohol, caffeine and sometimes even water can all impact sleep quality. The good news is that you don't have to totally get rid of coffee and alcohol, even if they're impacting your sleep. Keep reading to find out how these beverages can affect your sleep and learn how long before going to bed you should stop drinking them.
How caffeine interacts with sleep quality
You know that caffeine makes you feel more alert and less sleepy, but you may not know that the effects from drinking caffeine can linger for hours after you feel that initial jolt. "It still does have its properties acting in your system for many, many hours, even after you might not feel the stimulating effects of it," says Dr. Conroy. This means that even if you drink caffeine later in the day and can fall asleep that night, it could still be impacting your sleep stages at night without you realizing it.
When to stop drinking caffeine before bed
"People have very different sensitivities to caffeine and people who consume caffeine more often might respond differently to those who don't drink at all," says Dr. Conroy. "But in general, our guideline is eight hours before going to bed, you should eliminate all caffeinated products."
When to stop drinking alcohol before bed
Dr. Conroy recommends avoiding it at least three hours before bed. "It's sedating at first, so it can help you fall asleep, but can interfere with staying asleep. And so to avoid that we generally use a three-hour guideline," she says.
How soon before bed should you stop drinking water?
You don't need to avoid water altogether in the evenings, but Dr. Conroy says limiting what you drink before bed can help the problem. "Maybe no more than 12 ounces in the couple of hours before you go to bed is recommended," she says. You can also try drinking more water earlier throughout the day, instead of waiting until the evenings to catch up. Chugging water at night before you go to bed may seem healthy, but it's going to backfire if it messes with your precious sleep.