Insomnia is a sleep disorder, characterized by difficulty falling or staying asleep. People with insomnia usually have one or more of the following symptoms; difficulty falling asleep, waking often during the night and having trouble falling back asleep, waking too early in the morning, and feeling tired upon waking. There are two types of insomnia; primary and secondary insomnia. Primary insomnia is when the sleep difficulties are not directly associated with any other medical issue or problem. Secondary insomnia is when the sleep issues are due to another condition or problem such as asthma, arthritis, depression, pain, cancer or heartburn, medication they are taking, or substance abuse.1


Impact of coffee and caffeine on Insomnia

  • Caffeine reduces the symptoms of tiredness, but it cannot replace sleep
  • Moderate coffee intake is not associated with any health risks
  • Caffeine can have a stimulating effect as soon as 15 minutes after consumption, and will last for hours


Caffeine is a stimulant, and a lot of people use it in the morning and throughout the day to help wake them up. Caffeine enters the bloodstream through the stomach and small intestine and can take less than 15 minutes to have a stimulating effect on the body. Caffeine will not replace sleep. It simply makes you feel more alert and awake by blocking sleep inducing chemicals in the brain, and by increasing adrenaline production. Moderate (3 8oz cups or 250 mg of caffeine per day) coffee intake is not associated with any health risks. 6 or more 8oz cups of coffee per day is considered excessive coffee intake, and can start to cause issues, like anxiety, irritability and jitteriness.


Once in the body, caffeine will persist for several hours: it takes around 6 hours for one half of the caffeine to be eliminated2. Caffeine can therefore cause or worsen insomnia of drunk too late in the day for it’s stimulating effects to be worn off before bed. A cup of coffee can, however, help an insomniac be alert after a bad nights sleep for that important meeting when drunk in the morning. However, those who frequently suffer with insomnia should be wary of caffeine, even in the morning, due to it’s long half life.



               1 WebMD - An Overview of Insomnia

            2 National Sleep Foundation - Caffeine and Sleep