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Bedtime beverages: caffeine, alcohol and sleep

2nd January 2024 • 3 min read

Finding the right bedtime brew could be your ticket to a more peaceful and rejuvenating sleep.

There’s nothing like a nightcap to help you wind down from the day. Whether it's a whisky on the rocks, a cosy cup of tea or a steaming mug of cocoa, many people enjoy sipping on a beverage before bed.

But did you know that the drinks you consume can influence the quality of your sleep? Some beverages can contribute to a more restful slumber, while others could have you counting sheep all night. Here, we explain which drinks you should steer clear of – and which ones are your friend.

Does alcohol affect sleep?

One of the biggest misconceptions about alcohol is that, because it’s a sedative, it’ll help you sleep. Whilst having a glass of wine in the evening might make you feel relaxed or even drowsy, it can also disrupt and reduce the quality of your sleep. If you’ve ever found that you can’t sleep after drinking (at least not well) you’ll know what we’re talking about.

According to Australia’s Sleep Health Foundation, drinking alcohol before bed is associated with night sweats, frequent awakenings, headaches and nightmares – all of which can impact the quality of your rest. And because it’s a diuretic, you’ll probably find yourself getting up multiple times during the night to use the bathroom, too.

Even if you only get on the booze every once in a while, just one session of binge drinking can mess with your melatonin levels (the natural chemical that makes you feel sleepy) for up to an entire week. Talk about a hangover.

To limit the influence of alcohol on sleep, avoid drinking alcohol at least four hours before you plan to turn in. The good news? People who abstain from drinking alcohol generally report sleep improvement.


For a good night’s sleep, avoid drinking alcohol at least four hours before bed.

Caffeine: to drink or not to drink?

Found in coffee, soft drinks, energy drinks and some teas, caffeine tends to be our go-to solution to combat fatigue. But it isn’t a magic cure-all. Having a cuppa might help you feel refreshed in the morning, but it can have long-lasting effects and may be keeping you up past your bedtime.

Caffeine works by increasing activity in the brain and nervous system, as well as circulating adrenaline and cortisol through your body. It usually reaches peak levels around 30-70 minutes after consumption, but the effects can last several hours. While it varies from person to person, people who consume too much caffeine often experience increased heart rate and body temperature, frequent urination, restlessness, anxiety and trouble sleeping.

Unsurprisingly, one Australian study found that the more caffeine a person consumed, the less time they spent asleep. That doesn’t mean you have to go cold turkey on your morning brew – but the Sleep Health Foundation recommends calling it quits on caffeine four hours before you plan to hit the hay.

It’s not just coffee, either. Soft drinks and energy drinks also contain high levels of caffeine. Research has shown that these drinks are associated with disrupted sleep patterns, restlessness and tiredness in children in particular. After all, every parent knows giving their child a Coca-Cola before bed is a recipe for disaster.

What can I drink before bed?

When it comes to bedtime bevvies, water is the obvious choice. That doesn’t mean you should be gulping down litres of it, but try to have a little bit before lights out and keep a glass of water or drink bottle handy in case you wake up thirsty.


Keep it simple with a glass of water, milk or decaf tea.

Warm milk is a good choice too. Not only is milk free from caffeine and sugar (usually), it also contains tryptophan, an essential amino acid that our bodies use to create melatonin. Early research suggests there may be a link between consuming dairy products like milk and improved sleep quality.

If you like a hot drink before bed, opt for a decaf tea or herbal brew. Many people swear by herbal remedies – and while there is very little evidence to show if they are effective at improving sleep, herbs such as chamomile, passionflower and kava are known to reduce anxiety, which can, in turn, positively impact sleep. Of course, you should always speak to your doctor first if you have any concerns.

Now that you've got your bedtime beverage sorted, it's time to make sure your bedroom is a cosy haven! Explore our range of mattresses, beds, bedroom furniture and manchester and create a dreamy space for sleep.

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