Caffeine: unless you sleep nine hours every night and wake up each morning perfectly rested, you can’t start your day without it. Caffeine is a mild natural stimulant in coffee, tea, and chocolate, and cola. It occurs much less naturally—and in much higher concentrations—in an array of energy drinks you can find on the shelves and coolers of your grocery stores and gas stations. Though it’s surely the last thing on your mind as you’re getting yourself ready for another day, you should know the dangers of too much caffeine, especially if you rely on energy drinks to get your boost.
While caffeine’s effects can be a welcome eye-opener at the crack of dawn, the effects are much less welcome at nightfall. Having coffee or tea after dinner can keep you up at night, cutting into your sleep time. And what will you do the next morning after tossing and turning? Probably make some coffee.
Coffee, tea, and cola are all acidic beverages, and that can lead to some nasty acid reflux that can keep you up at night. Additionally, caffeine relaxes the lower esophagus, which can trigger painful reflux symptoms.
Elevated Intraocular Pressure
Your blood isn’t the only fluid in your body that can experience elevated pressure as a result of caffeine overuse. Your eyes rely on the circulation of intraocular fluid to lubricate the different parts of the eyes, supply immunoglobulins to vulnerable areas, and even maintain their spherical shape. This fluid must maintain a certain pressure, but when intraocular pressure gets too high, it can strain the optic nerve, causing nerve damage that leads to glaucoma, a progressive and irreversible form of blindness. High caffeine intake can increase intraocular pressure by as much as 2 mmHg (millimeters of mercury) an hour after a stiff cup of black coffee. While you should be able to consume caffeine safely, you may want to avoid elevating your intraocular pressure before a visit to the eye doctor.
How Much Is Too Much?
At what point should you start to worry about the dangers of too much caffeine? Fortunately, if you’re sticking to coffee, tea, and the occasional can of soda, you’ll probably have to worry about your sugar intake more than your caffeine intake. As long as you remain well under 400 mg of caffeine daily—or about five eight-ounce cups of coffee per day, you won’t have to worry about acute caffeine intoxication. However, you should still take care to avoid those late-night beverages, just in case.