I don’t drink coffee, but I do drink tea and cola. Could this be the reason why I don’t sleep well at night?

Splash How well you sleep determines how energetic and happy you are the next day. One major reason why many people sleep poorly is lingering caffeine in their systems. Not only a mid-day cup of coffee or tea, but even a glass of cola or a chocolate doughnut contains enough caffeine to keep some people up at night. Caffeine can linger in the system for up to 12 hours, revving your nervous system and interfering with sleep. If you are a coffee drinker troubled by sleep problems, try eliminating caffeine. If you feel and sleep better after two weeks of being caffeine-free, then avoid caffeine permanently. You can try adding back one or two cups after the two-week trial, but cut back if insomnia reappears.  Photo Credit: themysteryman via Compfight

I love coffee. How can I cut back on caffeine?

Coffee Break From Au bon Pain decaf to Sanka, a cup of decaffeinated coffee contains only about 2 to 9 milligrams of caffeine. Starbucks decaf ranks higher at about 33 milligrams per cup, but their decaf espresso supplies only 8 milligrams. That’s quite a drop from the 200 to 272 milligrams in a cup of regular coffee and a lot less than you’d get from coffee-flavored ice cream (about 40 milligrams of caffeine in a cup), a 12-ounce cola (about 45 milligrams), or a cup of tea (50 milligrams). You’d ingest that much caffeine in a little piece of chocolate or a cup of hot cocoa, and a lot more in many over-the-counter drugs, such as Excedrin, Anacin, and, of course, No-Doz, which range from 32 to 100 milligrams per tablet. Some coffee brands, such as Hillsboro, offer 50% decaffeinated coffees. So make sure to read labels and purchase the unleaded stuff.

Of course, if you’re ordering decaf at a restaurant or coffee bar, you could fall victim to the old bait-and-switch routine. A waiter pouring coffee can mistakenly fill your cup with the cranked-up version or the counter help at the coffee bar can accidentally label a regular latte as decaf. I’ve found that asking waiters for their home numbers in case I’m still up at 3am after drinking the wrong brew helps prevent these problems.

Watch out for less obvious sources of caffeine. For example, many soda pops, from Sunkist Orange Soda to Mountain Dew, contain up to 55 milligrams of coffee, the caffeine equivalent of almost 28 cups of Sanka. Dark chocolate has up to three times the caffeine of milk chocolate. And, there are a host of caffeine-charged beverages on the market, so avoid any drink that says it will energize. Photo credit: Mike Bitzenhofer via Compfight

Soft Drinks and Kids

1. Why are our kids drinking so much soda pop?
Soda is everywhere. More than 2.8 million vending machines spew out more than 27 billion soft drinks a year at video stores, gas stations, schools, and more. They are cheap drinks in fast-foods restaurants, movie theaters, virtually everywhere. They’re sold in 60% of public schools. Some school districts even receive money from soda pop companies to sell certain pops exclusively in their vending machines. And our kids are being bombarded with the best and most clever advertising in the world. While pop manufacturers spent $549 million advertising pop last year, the National Cancer Institute spends less than $1 million encouraging people to eat more fruits and vegetables. It’s no wonder our kids are drinking pop and leaving their broccoli on the plate.

2. How many soft drinks are our kids drinking today?
Manufacturers pumped out 15 billion gallons of soda pop last year, or 54 gallons for every man, woman, and child – that’s more than 19 ounces a day. This is twice as much as we consumed back in the 1970s. While this averages about 1 ½ cans per person per day, many of us aren’t drinking any at all, while our children are drinking more than their share. According to USDA, American children between the ages of 12 and 19 consume about a half quart of pop a day or 3.5 quarts a week.

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Q & A: I get too nervous when I drink coffee and want to switch to decaf. How can I tell which brands of decaf coffee are truly caffeine-free?

Q: I get too nervous when I drink coffee and want to switch to decaf. How can I tell which brands of decaf coffee are truly caffeine-free?
– Ann in Burlington

A: Short of calling each coffee manufacturer and requesting detailed information on the caffeine content of their decaffeinated brands, you can’t. But, it’s really not an issue, since most major brands of coffee live up to their claims, which are that decaffeinated coffee is very low in, but not free from, caffeine. Most cups of decaffeinated coffee contain only about 2 to 9 milligrams of caffeine. Starbucks decaf ranks higher at about 33 milligrams per cup, but their decaf espresso supplies only 8 milligrams. That’s quite a drop from the 200 to 272 milligrams in a cup of regular coffee and a lot less than you’d get from coffee-flavored ice cream (about 40 milligrams of caffeine in a cup), a 12-ounce cola (about 45 milligrams), or a cup of tea (50 milligrams). You’d ingest that much caffeine in a little piece of chocolate or a cup of hot cocoa, and a lot more in many over-the-counter drugs, such as Excedrin, Anacin, and, of course, No-Doz, which range from 32 to 100 milligrams per tablet. Some coffee brands, such as Hillsboro, offer 50% decaffeinated coffees. So make sure to read labels and purchase the unleaded stuff. Of course, if you’re ordering decaf at a restaurant or coffee bar, you could fall victim to the old bait-and-switch routine. A waiter pouring coffee can mistakenly fill your cup with the cranked-up version or the counter help at the coffee bar can accidentally label a regular latte as decaf. I’ve found that asking waiters for their home numbers in case I’m still up at 3am after drinking the wrong brew helps prevent these problems. Watch out for less obvious sources of caffeine. For example, many soda pops, from Sunkist Orange Soda to Mountain Dew, contain up to 55 milligrams of coffee, the caffeine equivalent of almost 28 cups of Sanka. Dark chocolate has up to three times the caffeine of milk chocolate. And, there are a host of caffeine-charged beverages on the market, from the soda pops Jolt, Surge, and Josta to bottled waters, such as Aqua Java, Java Johnny, and Water Joe. It is very unlikely that a cup or two of decaf would have much effect on anxiety levels, while your enjoyment of a cup of decaf brew is one of life’s little pleasures you might not want to give up. – Elizabeth Somer

Q & A: I love coffee, but caffeine makes me too jittery. What can I do?

Q: I love coffee, but caffeine makes me too jittery. What can I do?
– Sally in Louisville, Kentucky

A: Decaffeinated coffee is very low in, but not free from, caffeine. Most brands of decaf contain only about 2 to 9 milligrams of caffeine per cup. That’s quite a drop from the 200 to 272 milligrams in a cup of regular coffee and a lot less than you’d get from coffee-flavored ice cream (about 40 milligrams of caffeine in a cup) or a 12-ounce cola (about 45 milligrams). Watch out for other sources of caffeine, including chocolate, hot cocoa, and many over-the-counter drugs, such as Excedrin, Anacin, and, of course, No-Doz, which range from 32 to 100 milligrams per tablet. Also, watch out for caffeinated soda pops, from Sunkist Orange Soda to Mountain Dew, contain up to 55 milligrams of coffee, the caffeine equivalent of almost 28 cups of Sanka. It is very unlikely that a cup or two of decaf would have much effect on anxiety levels, while your enjoyment of a cup of decaf brew is one of life’s little pleasures you might not want to give up. – Elizabeth Somer