Sleep is really a far more critical piece of maintaining vitality than we often give it credit for. Since we have so much on our plate to do every day, we often put sleep off into a category of “pleasure and luxury”, but in reality, lack of adequate sleep causes everything from weight gain, immune system dysfunction, to memory loss with a significantly increased risk of developing dementia.
In other words, sleep is in no way a Luxury. It is a total necessity for each and every one of us.
With this said, many of us consume a decent amount of caffeine, starting with coffee or tea in the morning, soda or tea following our coffee, and end the day with some chocolate dessert. ALL of these foods / drinks contain caffeine.
The liver is our primary organ for cleansing caffeine from our body. If the liver is not functioning well, our ability to clear caffeine from our blood will be slower than if our liver is functioning normally.
For the average woman with a healthy liver, it takes 4-6 hours for the liver to clear half of the caffeine out of her body. That means if you stop consuming caffeine at 2:00 p.m. you will still have half the caffeine you consumed in your blood stream as late as 8:00 p.m. In fact, it takes 20 to 30 hours - after your last caffeine consumption - to clear all the caffeine out of your body. This is why consuming caffeine later in the day can be so damaging to your sleep.
However, there are some interesting things that can vary the speed at which your liver clears caffeine from your body that you should be aware of.
7 Things that Can Vary the Speed at Which Your Liver Clears Caffeine from your Body
- Estrogen decreases the rate at which you clear caffeine. Meaning when you are in your 20’s and 30’s, when your Estrogen levels are higher, the rate at which you clear caffeine is slower than in your 50’s when your Estrogen levels are lower. After your Estrogen levels decline, you start clearing caffeine at a faster rate. However, if you supplement with Estrogen after menopause, the speed at which you clear caffeine slows back down, returning to the same rate as when you were a younger woman.
- Birth control pills are similar to Estrogen supplementation and also decrease the rate at which a woman clears caffeine.
- During pregnancy, when our Estrogen levels are higher, we also have slower caffeine metabolism, keeping caffeine in the blood stream for a longer period of time.
- Some foods effect the way we metabolize caffeine. For instance, when drinking grapefruit juice at the same time as consuming caffeine, our body acts similarly to how it reacts with Estrogen and slows down our ability to clear caffeine. This results in higher levels of caffeine in the blood for longer periods of time.
- Cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, kale, collard greens, cabbage, cauliflower, and bok choy act in the opposite way than Estrogen and grapefruit juice - and increasing the metabolism of caffeine. This helps cleanse caffeine from the blood more quickly. Vitamin C supplements work in a similar way as cruciferous vegetables, helping clear caffeine at a faster rate.
- Alcohol consumed at the same time as caffeine (such as a caffeinated alcoholic drink like Rum and Coke or alcoholic coffee drinks), slows caffeine clearance but does not change the clearance of the alcohol portion of the drink.
- Interestingly smoking tobacco actually speeds up caffeine metabolism.
I have been a hopeless “coffee addict” for decades. The most successful time of my life that I was able to maintain abstinence from caffeine for an extended period of time was during the years I suffered with Adrenal Fatigue and Insomnia and was doing every single thing “by the book” to overcome my suffering.
However, even with following every perfect step to overcome Adrenal Fatigue, not until I started on Bioidentical Progesterone did I overcome Insomnia. And this was THE critical piece in overcoming Adrenal Fatigue. You just can’t separate the two. At that point in my life, I was a pretty “young chick” and only needed Progesterone supplementation to balance an Estrogen Dominance. Today I use Hormone Heaven that has BiEst, (80% Estriol with 20% Estradiol combination) with Progesterone.
I will admit… I love my coffee. But these days I get to enjoy my cake and eat it too. I absolutely sleep like a baby, no matter how much coffee I drink. In fact, it has become a bit of a joke between David and me. Occasionally I decide I want to “quit coffee” (again), and when I proudly announce my upcoming “cold turkey” coffee abstinence plan, David replies with a light heart, “You’ve quit coffee 20 times over the last 20 years, honey.” And he’s right… and we giggle.
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