I’m a nationally published sleep expert, journalist, and the mom of three young kids. I’ve been helping tired families sleep since 2007 (more about me here). Subscribe to The Well Rested Family for fresh news and tips on keeping your bunch happy and healthy. Thanks for stopping by!

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Thursday
Oct062011

Kids, Caffeine, and Sleep

Bad news for parents: kids who sip caffeine sleep less According to the National Sleep Foundation, 65 percent of women rely on caffeine to make it through the day. I plead guilty to daily coffee consumption—after all, I live in Washington, where espresso shops seem to outnumber people—but I’m as strict and strict can be when it comes to caffeine and my kids. These days, many kids are drinking energy drinks when they’re barely old enough to read the can: another recent study found that 75 percent of kids 5-12 drink caffeine daily.

This study, published in The Journal of Pediatrics, reported that the more caffeine kids consume, the less they sleep. That’s bad news, because sleep troubles in children are linked to everything from insulin resistance to irritability to impaired school performance.

Caffeine is tricky to track, because it’s not listed on nutrition labels.  So kids who drink coffee, soda, and energy drinks can exceed safe caffeine limits quickly, easily, and legally.

In their October 2011 article on caffeine, Consumer Reports recommends that children shouldn’t drink more than 45-85 milligrams per day. Many sleep doctors, however, will tell parents to aim for an even lower caffeine intake: zero. Kids shouldn’t drink caffeine, period. Especially if they’re experiencing any type of sleep problem.

Here are some quick caffeine facts:

  • Did you know Barq’s Root Beer contains caffeine, and A&W Root Beer doesn’t?
  • Did you know Diet Coke has more caffeine than Diet Pepsi?
  • Did you know that Starbucks drip coffee has more caffeine than Dunkin’ Donuts?

For more information, including hard-to-find information on the amount of caffeine in popular foods and drinks, check out the CR article. And join me in my fervent hope that caffeine will be listed on nutrition labels soon. It wouldn’t solve the caffeine-and-kids problem, but it would be a start.

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Reader Comments (2)

I had no idea that Barq's rootbeer contained caffeine. I'm strict about caffeine, too. I just tell my kids what my Ukrainian Baba (grandmother) always said: "It'll stunt your growth." Probably not true, but the last thing my already energized kids need is caffeine! Now me, on the other hand.....

October 7, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterChrista Melnyk Hines

Christa, I didn't know about Barq's either! But now that I do know, the slogan "Barq's has bite" makes more sense. :)

October 11, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMalia Jacobson

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