Caffeine Keeps Teens Awake at Night

Adolescents May Be Using Caffeine to Combat Sleep Deprivation

From the WebMD Archives

Jan. 6, 2003 -- Soda, tea, or coffee -- if your kids are downing the caffeine, they're probably not getting the good night's sleep they need, according to a new study.

Because caffeine is a well-known stimulant, it can cause sleep problems in adults. But until now, there has been limited research to determine if adolescents would react similarly to caffeine.

Apparently they do.

In this study of almost 200 teens, caffeine led to more awake time during the night, including more interrupted sleep on nights after increased caffeine use, according to lead researcher Charles P. Pollak, MD. His study appears in the January issue of Pediatrics.

The study, originated by one of the researchers while he was in ninth and 10th grade, looked at daily caffeine consumption diaries kept by schoolmates for two weeks.

Caffeine was consumed on more than 70% of the days in the study. On average, caffeine consumption was equal to one to two cans of soda. But close to 20% of teens had enough daily caffeine to equal three to four cans of soda. One 13-year-old boy reported the highest individual caffeine consumption of approximately 10 cans of soda.

Sodas accounted for more than half of the caffeine consumed.

Caffeine consumption started going up after Wednesday and peaked on Saturdays. This supported researchers' theory that by mid-week the students might be suffering from an increasing lack of sleep.

What the researchers suggest, based on their findings, is that caffeine is affecting the nighttime sleeping patterns of teenagers. And while sodas are readily available and probably profitable for schools, it might be prudent to limit caffeine consumption for teenagers.

SOURCE: Pediatrics, Jan. 1, 2003.

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