How Quitting Caffeine Can Help You “Sleep Like a Teenager”

Why sleep like a baby when you can sleep like a teen?

A cup of hot coffee
Ditching your morning coffee could be your key to a better sleep.
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By Carl Caminetti / March 26, 2020 8:00 am

“Sleep like a baby” has always been an imperfect simile. After all, infants are notoriously poor sleepers perhaps best known for their habit of waking up screaming multiple times a night.

Perhaps that why Michael Pollan, author of the Audible Original audio book Caffeine, instead told listeners that kicking his caffeine habit helped him start “sleeping like a teenager again.”

According to Pollan, quitting caffeine is the key to a good night’s sleep, and while breaking the habit comes with many a downside, the sleep benefits more than make up for the trouble. “It was the only upside I could see, and it was a big one,” Pollan tells listeners in Caffeine. “It was wonderful to have these deep, dream-filled sleeps.”

Speaking to Eleanor Park for the Wall Street Journal, Pollan shared some tips for adolescent-level sleep, as well as insights into how caffeine may be getting in the way.

According to Pollan, caffeine “appears to take its toll on Slow Wave Sleep, this critical brief period of deep sleep that we need to reset our brains for the next day and to resynchronize everything.” Meanwhile, alcohol, he adds, “seems to mess with our REM sleep, when we do the most dreaming.”

Along with ditching caffeine, Pollan also recommends sleeping in the cold for best sleep results. “The lower our body temperature, the better we sleep,” he told Park, adding that reducing screen time and stress can also help you sleep better.

That said, even Pollan doesn’t think you need to ditch caffeine forever. After a three-month caffeine fast, Pollan described his first jolt of caffeine as “euphoric,” comparing the effects to psychedelics. “I felt a radical shift in consciousness and substantially different than I had a half-hour before,” he told Park. “It was euphoric, a surge of well-being.”

So if the promise of a good night’s sleep isn’t enough to get you to ditch your caffeine habit, maybe just do it for the euphoric rush when you inevitably pick it back up again.

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