I have found, over the years, that I’m able to drink green tea before bed without any ill effects. This often comes up when I’m sharing tea with friends for the first time. They complain that they can’t drink tea in the evening, much like my husband with his coffee. He doesn’t drink coffee daily, it’s more of a periodic treat but he’s learned that if he drinks coffee after noon, it affects his sleep that night. I’ve always thought it wasn’t quite possible for that to happen with green tea, given its considerably lower amounts of caffeine. I just couldn’t understand why I wasn’t having any problem with my evening green tea yet others complained about it. I tend to be sensitive to drugs so my response to caffeine surprised me. I probably drink upwards of 4 cups of tea daily.
I came upon an article that explains why this is true. A study with athletes done in Dublin showed that caffeine was effective in improving performance when ingested by infrequent caffeine drinkers. Those who drank tea regularly didn’t experience the same positive benefits from caffeine as did their non-tea drinking peers.
The study used caffeinated gum for their athletes but the conclusions were clear: “They found that the caffeinated gum provided very little advantage to athletes whose bodies may have become desensitized to caffeine through a process called habituation, which occurs by having caffeine frequently…..However, the athletes who had a low habitual caffeine consumption maintained their performance in repeated sprint tests after ingesting a caffeinated chewing gum, while the performance of athletes who consumed the caffeine equivalent of three or more cups of coffee per day worsened over the course of the ten repeated sprints. This indicated that this second group did not benefit from caffeine as a performance aid.”
According to this study, as one begins to consume tea regularly, the negative effects of caffeine will dissipate. Fortunately, I don’t find that to be the case with L Theanine – the calming property of tea. No matter what time of day I drink my beloved green tea, I feel a sense of calm. Full disclosure here, remember I drink 4 cups of green tea daily. If I’m home, that number increases.
Another interesting consequence of frequent tea drinking is that although some report an increased need to urinate after drinking tea, those effects diminish with time as well. Once tea becomes a daily part of your lifestyle, you’ll no longer find it leads to increases in urination – unless that’s a consequence of increasing your water consumption significantly. Remember that tea is considered to be hydrating and can be substituted for daily water consumption to aid in hydration. So drink up and enjoy.