Traveling to new places provides a chance to explore new cultures—and with that, local foods and beverages. But while there may be no better way to experience Rome than sipping an espresso at a sidewalk café, if you want to stay energized for the duration of your trip, it’s important to know how some drinks can affect your sleep.
Caffeine: A Case of the Jitters
A cup of coffee (or tea or cola) can have a stimulating effect as soon as 15 minutes after you take your first sip. That may be good news if you’re feeling groggy and trying to rev up for a day of sightseeing, but caffeine has a half-life of about 6 hours, meaning if you sip a latte at 4 p.m., half of the caffeine will still be in your system at 10 p.m. If you find yourself struggling to sleep at night, consider swapping the afternoon java for a decaf.
Alcohol: The Sleep-Pattern Disrupter
Wine may make you feel sleepy, but that doesn’t mean it helps you get quality shut-eye. In fact, alcohol may actually interrupt your circadian rhythm by affecting levels of chemicals that tell your body when it’s time to sleep or wake up. This is why you may doze off quickly after a glass or two—only to wake up feeling wide-eyed in the middle of the night. Alcohol-impaired sleep can be disruptive no matter where you are, but when you’re traveling, especially if you’re battling jet lag, it can put a damper on your daytime energy.
Soda: A Source of Bloat
It may seem like caffeine-free soda is a safe bet for sleep, but it turns out even soft drinks can keep you up at night. That’s because the carbonation in these beverages can cause bloating and stomach pressure, triggering heartburn. Also known as gastroesophageal reflux disease, or GERD, it often flares up at night, which can make it tough to get the sleep you need to feel rested during the day.
So what should you sip before bed? Try caffeine-free herbal tea. It makes for a relaxing bedtime ritual, and you may discover new varieties to try wherever you are vacationing—a perfect souvenir to bring home from your travels.