We’re a nation of coffee drinkers. According to the National Coffee Association, 64 percent of Americans drink at least one cup of coffee per day. That’s up from 62 percent last year and is the highest percentage since the organization started tracking coffee consumption in 1963.
But it’s not just coffee. We’re also guzzling energy drinks, tea, and soda. In fact, caffeine is the most widely consumed psychoactive substance in the world.
So why are we so addicted to caffeine?
For one, it’s a drug that works. Caffeine is a central nervous system stimulant that can improve alertness, focus, and mood. It’s also relatively safe when consumed in moderation.
But there’s another reason we’re drawn to caffeine: we’re sleep-deprived. A recent survey found that one in three American adults are not getting enough sleep. This chronic lack of sleep can lead to a whole host of health problems, including obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and depression.
Caffeine can help offset the effects of sleep deprivation by making us feel more alert and awake. That’s why it’s not surprising that people who are sleep-deprived are more likely to consume caffeine.
But there’s a downside to using caffeine to combat sleepiness. Caffeine can cause jitters, anxiety, and irritability. It can also lead to dependence and withdrawal symptoms when we try to quit.
So if you’re struggling to get enough sleep, what can you do?
First, try to cut back on caffeine. If you’re drinking multiple cups of coffee or energy drinks every day, try to cut back to one or two. And avoid caffeine late in the day so it doesn’t interfere with your sleep.
Second, make sure you’re getting enough exercise. Exercise can help improve sleep quality.
Finally, try to establish a regular sleep schedule. Going to bed and waking up at the same time each day can help you get the rest you need.
If you’re struggling to sleep, talk to your doctor. There are a number of treatment options available, including prescription sleep aids.
Getting enough sleep is important for your health. But if you can’t seem to get enough shut-eye, don’t turn to caffeine as a crutch. It may help you feel more awake in the short-term, but it can also lead to dependence and other problems.