You may well already know that caffeine is a stimulant found in coffee, tea and many soda drinks. Too much caffeine can cause agitation and leave you feeling jittery, making it hard to sleep and increasing your blood pressure.
Further compounding the problem, a lack of sleep is known to be related to hypertension. Could caffeine be the common factor?
In people who don't consume caffeine regularly, caffeine can cause a temporary but sharp rise in blood pressure. Researchers don't know exactly why but it seems that our bodies build some tolerance for caffeine and that those who consume caffeine more regularly have some sort of buffer. Some researchers say that caffeine narrows blood vessels by inhibiting a hormone that helps keep them wide. Caffeine may also stimulate release of the stress hormones, cortisol and adrenaline.
Other research has revealed that regular caffeine drinkers have a higher average blood pressure than people who drink none. Confusing!
As a precaution, many doctors recommend limiting caffeine intake to 200 milligrams a day - about the amount in two standard cups of brewed coffee. Be aware that the amount of caffeine in coffee and soft drinks is different across brands.
To find out if caffeine affects you, doctors suggest checking your blood pressure within 30 minutes of drinking coffee or other caffeinated drink. If your blood pressure rises by five to ten points, this suggests you are sensitive to the effects of caffeine. If you think you would like to lower your caffeine intake, do it gradually over a period of days to a week to avoid withdrawal effects like headaches.
Jenny Jackson is the webmaster of A Good Night Sleep You are welcome to reproduce this article on your health or family related web site, as long as you reproduce the article in full, including this resource box and link to her website. Find out more about foods that lower blood pressure and foods that can help you sleep.
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