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Would labeling standards for caffeine reduce insomnia?

The Los Angeles Times recently reported that medical professionals are calling for labeling standards for caffeine due to its potential effects on the body.

We're all aware of the link between caffeine and sleep (more of the former generally leads to less of the latter) - however, this report also mentions that excess caffeine can exagerrate attention defecit disorder and hyperactivity, increase blood pressure, heart rate and secretion of stress hormones. It can also hamper the body's ability to regulate blood sugar levels. Some research studies have even found that caffeine can harm developing fetuses.

The main argument of the article is the fact that caffeine often appears in foods we wouldn't necessarily expect it to. Caffeine can be found in chocolate bars and even chewing gum. Manufacturers only need to include caffeine on existing labels if it's added to a food or drink - if it occurs naturally in the product, caffeine doesn't need to appear on any ingredient lists.

It's fine to blame coffee on the odd sleepless night or two, but when it comes to long term, chronic insomnia, the cause is often bigger than the consumption of caffeine. I was surprised at just how prevalent caffeine is, though - so perhaps clearer labelling may help people get a better night's sleep. Please share your thoughts - the comments form is below.

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Last updated: March 18, 2013

This Article Was Written By

Martin Reed

Leave a Comment

  • Martin Reed
    January 8, 2010, 5:22 pm

    Thanks for sharing. It’s interesting that you found a benefit in the short term, but that your insomnia eventually came back. Did it really come back even worse, or do you think that’s just your perception because you were free of it for those six weeks?

    I agree that it would be interesting to see a comparison of stress vs insomnia according to country. I think it would be difficult to directly compare though as ‘stress’ is very subjective and no doubt the interpretation of the word varies across cultures.

  • J.E. Ignatius McNeill
    January 5, 2010, 11:06 am

    I’ve tried a number of insomnia fighting techniques. The caffeine reduction method worked for about six weeks for me and then my body adjusted and the insomnia was worse than ever.

    I agree that American society is caffeine saturated and that it’s probably going to cause health issues. Reduction may even help a lot of insomniacs.

    I just really doubt it’s a panacea.

    My insomnia is mostly stress-related so of course I’m biased toward that idea. However, it would still be interesting to see what the statistical comparison would be between stress levels and insomnia levels in a variety of countries. Our culture may be giving us insomnia.