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Could Caffeine Be Keeping You Up?

English: this is caffeine free mountain dew

Could caffeine be keeping you awake?(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

According to the National Sleep Foundation’s Sleep in America poll, 43% of us routinely use caffeinated beverages like coffee and energy drinks to keep us awake when our sleep debt is dragging us down.  But all that caffeine may be taking a toll on our ability to get the sleep we need to get back on track.  In essence, we may have created a neverending loop that keeps us alert but overtired.  While we may feel like we are funcitoning fine, we still aren’t getting enough sleep which can have serious and lasting consequences for our health and wellbeing.


Unfortunately, many of us may not realize just how much caffeine we are consuming everyday and therefore don’t see the connection to our sleeping difficulties.  To help you see if caffeine is the cause of your sleepless nights, here is a breakdown of the amount of caffeine in two of our most popular drinks.   You may be surprised at how much caffeine you are actually taking in over the course of the day.



Everyone knows that coffee contains caffeine, but not everyone realizes just how much caffeine they are consuming with their daily dose of coffee.  Here is the breakdown of the amount of caffeine contained in 4 ounces of common coffee type drinks according to the Mayo Clinic.

  • Restaurant Style Espresso –  160-300 mg
  • Generic Brewed Coffee  – 47-100 mg
  • Starbucks Brewed (Pike Place) – 82 mg
  • Generic Instant Coffee – 13-86 mg
  • Starbucks Latte – 37 mg
  • McDonald’s Brewed – 25 mg

Those of us who drink coffee average 3 to 4 cups a day.  This means that even if we are just drinking a generic brew, we are taking in as much as 800 mg a day.  While moderate caffeine intake is ok, moderate is about 200 mg or a quarter of that amount.  Once we cross the line from moderate on the way to excessive, we will begin to feel the effects of too much caffeine including insomnia, nervousness, restlessness, irritability, stomach upset, fast heartbeat, and jitteriness.


Soft Drinks

Not all soft drinks contain caffeine, but the ones that do have enough that they can significantly increase your overall caffeine intake, often without you even realizing it.  Additionally, many soft drinks contain a lot of sugar which can also impact sleep in some people.  Here is the amount of caffeine contained in 12 oz of some of the most common soft drinks according to the Mayo Clinic.

  • Mountain Dew 46-55 mg
  • Diet Coke 38-47 mg
  • Dr. Pepper 36 mg
  • Coke Zero 35 mg
  • Pepsi 32-39 mg
  • Coke 30-35 mg
  • Diet Pepsi  27-37 mg
  • Sprite 0 mg
  • 7UP 0 mg


Looking at this list, it is easy to see that just two cans of Mountain Dew a day equals more than 100 mg of caffeine.  If you consider that it can take 6 hours for half the caffeine consumed to leave the body, it’s clear that drinking two soft drinks in the evening can keep you awake and alert long after it’s time to go to bed.


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