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      • Keep those restaurant coffee machines going – caffeine may not affect sleep

      • If there’s one thing everyone knows about caffeinated coffee it’s that it’s a stimulant. Gets the creative juices flowing, focuses the mind. And keeps you awake at night. But, in good news for restaurant owners pushing the post-meal coffee – and finding that decaf coffee just isn’t keeping the tills ringing – some research has been published which suggests caffeine may not affect sleep. So, in theory, your customers can order a double espresso or a silky-smooth latte at 9 or 10pm guilt-free. Which means your restaurant coffee machines should start seeing extra workload.

        The study was carried out by researchers at Harvard Medical School and Florida Atlantic University. They tracked the caffeine, alcohol and nicotine consumed by 785 people for more than 5000 days and nights, using wrist sensors and sleep diaries.

        And caffeine didn’t seem to have any effect. Taking nicotine within four hours of hitting the hay did – taking more than 40 minutes off a good night’s kip for insomniacs. Alcohol also led to disrupted sleep. But coffee with caffeine, consumed within the four hours before bedtime, had no measurable effect on sleep quality or duration.

        It’s not the only good news for coffee lovers. The European Journal of Epidemiology published results from a different study earlier this year which drew the conclusion that drinking two to four cups of coffee a day was associated with increased life expectancy – by up to two years. The report was actually the result of analysing 40 different studies, covering almost 4 million people and almost half a million causes of death. Drinking coffee seemed to be associated with longer lives, no matter how much caffeine, and no matter the age, weight or alcohol or nicotine habits of the people analysed in the various studies.

        And since lack of sleep has previously been associated with shorter lifespans, your customers can have one of those coffees after the meal you’ve just served them – and sleep on through until dawn.