Coffee as Sleep Aid

 

Friday Food and Drink Post: Calling All Coffee Snobs prompted lively comments and cued a memory. It turns out that @she uses a moka pot, by Bialetti. This simple, rugged design serves up a strong cup of coffee with some froth on top. The action is similar to a percolator, but more vigorous, giving you a froth on top similar to expresso. The device was invented by an Italian in the 1930s and is mostly popular in Europe and Latin America.

Seeing a photograph of @she’s coffee maker reminded me of my first college roommate. He was a naturalized U.S. citizen who got out of Cuba with his parents via Spain. He was also overly ambitious about numbers of classes and activities, so he would get way behind, and suddenly try to buckle down and get assignments, papers, and study done.

You see, we were at the University of Chicago, where, at the time, they had to throw students out of the main library Saturday evening so we would have some social life. More precisely, we were being nudged to have a social life beyond the snack shop in the basement of the library, with everyone seeing if you were slacking or getting a quick snack before diving back into the carrels. So, the university and the student body were all on board for academic rigor and excellence, no slack cut.

We knew he was in scrabble mode when, late in the evening, he would fire up the hot plate with a coffee maker like in the photograph. He would then fill his cup a third of the way full of sugar, pour the first part of the brewed coffee over the sugar, and stir it into a latte colored slush. When the coffee maker finished frothing coffee up into the brewed coffee chamber, he’d pour the rest over the sugary slush and drink the concoction. He claimed this was coffee the Cuban way.

I could set my watch by him; fifteen minutes after he sucked down his caffeine-sugar fix, he would be sound asleep, head on his desk. You see, his brain had come to associate the evening coffee ritual with sleep, so that was what it did. Roommates learned to check and blow out any candle he might have lit, as he wasn’t going to wake for several hours. His spirit and coffee were strong, but the mental suggestion was stronger.

Have you seen similar seeming contradictions or instances of mind over body?

Published in General
This post was promoted to the Main Feed by a Ricochet Editor at the recommendation of Ricochet members. Like this post? Want to comment? Join Ricochet’s community of conservatives and be part of the conversation. Join Ricochet for Free.

There are 34 comments.

Become a member to join the conversation. Or sign in if you're already a member.
  1. Quietpi Member
    Quietpi
    @Quietpi

    Some years ago I read about a kindergarten teacher who gained a reputation for success with ADHD children.  When somebody got around to asking her what her secret was, she revealed that first thing every day she would serve them all some coffee.  It had the opposite effect on the children.  

    My grandfather had a terrible reputation in elementary school (late 19th century) – he was constantly getting in trouble because he was so far ahead of the other students that most of the time he had nothing to keep himself busy.  I’m sure that today he would have been diagnosed as hyperactive disorder or ADHD.  He was very successful in business.  As an adult, when he couldn’t sleep at night, he would get up, make a cup of coffee, and go right to sleep.  It had the opposite effect on him.  

    I have some other experience with children who I’m sure would have been diagnosed with hyperactive disorder or ADHD, had his/her parents taken him/her to a doctor.  But instead the parent would sit him/her down and serve a cup of coffee.  Whether it was the caffeine or the unusual nature of the activity I can’t say – I’m not big on anecdotal evidence.  I can only say it worked.  

    • #1
  2. Matt Balzer, Imperialist Claw Member
    Matt Balzer, Imperialist Claw
    @MattBalzer

    As I’ve said elsewhere, coffee only works to keep me awake when I don’t want it to. I could drink coffee at work and it wouldn’t make any difference. As soon as I got home and could sleep, I would be wide awake.

    • #2
  3. Mark Camp Member
    Mark Camp
    @MarkCamp

    CAB,

    Liked this story, thanks.

    You did ask a question, though, and this being Ricochet I will try my best to give a self-absorbed Comment that has little or nothing to do with the question.  If it’s too close to being relevant, I will delete it, of course.

    Here goes:

    “Since the invention of sleep, there have only been five sleeps that were rated the most sound, the most pure. The sleep that happens after drinking  two cups of coffee without getting out of bed leaves them all behind.”

    — Adapted from a line delivered by Peter Falk as Grandpa, in “The Princess Bride”.

     

    • #3
  4. She Member
    She
    @She

    A wonderful memory!  I’m so glad that I inadvertently prompted this post.  The coffee described sounds somewhat similar, froth and sugar-wise, to the “Bunn machine” coffee that the Cuban ladies made in @el-colonel ‘s comment #81 on my post.

    I come from a nation of tea drinkers, and never, until quite late in my life, did anyone suggest to me that caffeine was a stimulant and should prevent me from sleeping.  So a nice “cuppa tea” before going to bed is something that my family has always thought of as a relaxing sleep aid.  I know tea doesn’t have as much caffeine as coffee (although I’m fond of tea that’s strong enough to bend the spoon when you stir it), but even so, neither tea nor coffee keeps me awake.  That has its positives and negatives, depending on the effect I’m trying to achieve.

    My grandmother once picked up the rear end of the family car, which was rolling backwards down the hill and heading straight for her small children.  She shouted at them to get out the way, ran over to it, picked it up by the bumper, and changed its trajectory.  She was a tiny lady, about four-foot-eleven.  Then there was the prisoner who willed himself to death.  And, of course, Garaga Yasin, in which the curse rebounded and the witch-doctor fell over dead.

    Great post.  I do love the coffee made in this device.

     

    • #4
  5. Vectorman Inactive
    Vectorman
    @Vectorman

    Quietpi (View Comment):
    As an adult, when he couldn’t sleep at night, he would get up, make a cup of coffee, and go right to sleep. It had the opposite effect on him.

    My dad drank coffee in the Navy during WWII, even just before sleeping. He also learned to smoke, but quit when he was 40, and died at 89.

    Quietpi (View Comment):
    But instead the parent would sit him/her down and serve a cup of coffee. Whether it was the caffeine or the unusual nature of the activity I can’t say – I’m not big on anecdotal evidence. I can only say it worked.

    Ritalin is a stimulant and related to amphetamines. Coffee is also a stimulant, and probably has a similar effect.

    • #5
  6. Clifford A. Brown Contributor
    Clifford A. Brown
    @CliffordBrown

    Mark Camp (View Comment):

    CAB,

    Liked this story, thanks.

    You did ask a question, though, and this being Ricochet I will try my best to give a self-absorbed Comment that has little or nothing to do with the question. If it’s too close to being relevant, I will delete it, of course.

    Here goes:

    “Since the invention of sleep, there have only been five sleeps that were rated the most sound, the most pure. The sleep that happens after drinking two cups of coffee without getting out of bed leaves them all behind.”

    — Adapted from a line delivered by Peter Falk as Grandpa, in “The Princess Bride”.

     

    Well played, sir.

    • #6
  7. Stina Member
    Stina
    @CM

    Quietpi (View Comment):

    Some years ago I read about a kindergarten teacher who gained a reputation for success with ADHD children. When somebody got around to asking her what her secret was, she revealed that first thing every day she would serve them all some coffee. It had the opposite effect on the children.

    My grandfather had a terrible reputation in elementary school (late 19th century) – he was constantly getting in trouble because he was so far ahead of the other students that most of the time he had nothing to keep himself busy. I’m sure that today he would have been diagnosed as hyperactive disorder or ADHD. He was very successful in business. As an adult, when he couldn’t sleep at night, he would get up, make a cup of coffee, and go right to sleep. It had the opposite effect on him.

    I have some other experience with children who I’m sure would have been diagnosed with hyperactive disorder or ADHD, had his/her parents taken him/her to a doctor. But instead the parent would sit him/her down and serve a cup of coffee. Whether it was the caffeine or the unusual nature of the activity I can’t say – I’m not big on anecdotal evidence. I can only say it worked.

    So the ACTUAL disorder can be helped with stimulants like coffee and speed (basically what adderall and ritalin are). However, it has the expected effect on kids who don’t really have ADHD. There really is something physiological there, it’s just that it has been overdiagnosed among kids who teachers and/or parents just don’t know what to do with.

    So, because of the stimulating effect of adderall on healthy kids, it has been abused by over-achieving high school and college students to meet unrealistic expectations or to “have it all” – party and grades.

    • #7
  8. The Reticulator Member
    The Reticulator
    @TheReticulator

    I sometimes drink coffee before taking a nap. About the time the 20 minute nap is over the caffeine kicks in, too, and I’m ready to go. 

    I thought I had invented that technique, but I’ve read about others who do the same.

    • #8
  9. JoelB Member
    JoelB
    @JoelB

    The Reticulator (View Comment):

    I sometimes drink coffee before taking a nap. About the time the 20 minute nap is over the caffeine kicks in, too, and I’m ready to go.

    I thought I had invented that technique, but I’ve read about others who do the same.

    The practice is quite widespread. I have seen it described on Facebook as a Nappuchino.

    • #9
  10. Quietpi Member
    Quietpi
    @Quietpi

    The Reticulator (View Comment):

    I sometimes drink coffee before taking a nap. About the time the 20 minute nap is over the caffeine kicks in, too, and I’m ready to go.

    I thought I had invented that technique, but I’ve read about others who do the same.

    My brother does this.  What does he call it? a “java nap?” something like that.  Says it’s the best way to nap.  You wake up completely re-invigorated and ready to take on the world.

    • #10
  11. Arahant Member
    Arahant
    @Arahant

    @docjay has said I must be a true ADHD. Caffeine slows me down, or in large quantities, puts me to sleep.

    It has been more than, uh, thirty years, but I don’t remember the Regenstein closing down on Saturday evenings.

    • #11
  12. Jon1979 Inactive
    Jon1979
    @Jon1979

    As a little kid, I always found the Maxwell House “Morning Percolator” jingle to be relaxing to the point of being sleep-inducing, probably because I always remembered watching it on TV at night, just before I had to go to bed.

    • #12
  13. Flicker Coolidge
    Flicker
    @Flicker

    Mark Camp (View Comment):
    — Adapted from a line delivered by Peter Falk as Grandpa, in “The Princess Bride”.

    I’m trying to figure a way to give you  6 likes on that.

    • #13
  14. Mike "Lash" LaRoche Inactive
    Mike "Lash" LaRoche
    @MikeLaRoche

    What brand of coffee did they serve on the Titanic?  Sanka.

    • #14
  15. Flicker Coolidge
    Flicker
    @Flicker

    All I can say is:

    Chock Full Of Nuts is that heavenly coffee, heavenly coffee, heavenly coffee.

    Chock Full Of Nuts is that heavenly coffee.

    No better coffee Rockefeller’s money can buy.

    (Don’t know why that was going through my head.)

    • #15
  16. Clifford A. Brown Contributor
    Clifford A. Brown
    @CliffordBrown

    Arahant (View Comment):

    @docjay has said I must be a true ADHD. Caffeine slows me down, or in large quantities, puts me to sleep.

    It has been more than, uh, thirty years, but I don’t remember the Regenstein closing down on Saturday evenings.

    I left in 1983. Could have been Fridays, but I remember it as Saturdays.

    • #16
  17. Arahant Member
    Arahant
    @Arahant

    Clifford A. Brown (View Comment):
    I left in 1983. Could have been Fridays, but I remember it as Saturdays.

    Could have been. I just don’t remember it.

    • #17
  18. Mark Camp Member
    Mark Camp
    @MarkCamp

    Flicker (View Comment):

    Mark Camp (View Comment):
    — Adapted from a line delivered by Peter Falk as Grandpa, in “The Princess Bride”.

    I’m trying to figure a way to give you 6 likes on that.

    Next release you should have that capability, if my Enhancement Request* gets implemented.

    *I’ve asked them to program the new “3-Likes button” to give the Comment six likes, IF (a) you double-click it, AND (b) the author of the Comment that you are Like-ing is a member of  the Ricochet Group “Ricochet’s Best Commenters”.   That will be a by-invite-only Group, but just send the Group Owner a request by Private Message if you want in.

    (Initially, I will be the Group Owner and sole member, to make sure that the function is not abused.)

    • #18
  19. Arahant Member
    Arahant
    @Arahant

    Heh, there used to be what we called the Like Bug. If one knew how, one could give hundreds of likes. But Max went and “fixed” that.

    • #19
  20. Mark Camp Member
    Mark Camp
    @MarkCamp

    Arahant (View Comment):

    Heh, there used to be what we called the Like Bug. If one knew how, one could give hundreds of liked. But Max went and “fixed” that.

    Max is a pro.  I’m sure he can find the happy medium.  Between letting the riff-raff go crazy with multiple Likes on the one hand, and not allowing even trusted thought leaders to ensure that only worthy Comments are lauded in the public square, on the other.

    • #20
  21. KentForrester Coolidge
    KentForrester
    @KentForrester

    Coffee has a soporific effect on me. 

    • #21
  22. Steve C. Member
    Steve C.
    @user_531302

    Flicker (View Comment):

    All I can say is:

    Chock Full Of Nuts is that heavenly coffee, heavenly coffee, heavenly coffee.

    Chock Full Of Nuts is that heavenly coffee.

    No better coffee Rockefeller’s money can buy.

    (Don’t know why that was going through my head.)

    Strange.  I saw some at the grocery store the other day and that jingle suddenly filled my mind.

    My parents were Chock Full of Nuts devotees. In 1970, we moved from Jersey to Chicago and it was no where to be found. Every month, he had one of his friends put a box on a company truck.

    Wasn’t the line “Better coffee a millionaire’s money can’t buy.”?

     

    • #22
  23. She Member
    She
    @She

    KentForrester (View Comment):

    Coffee has a soporific effect on me.

    Like lettuce?

    • #23
  24. Flicker Coolidge
    Flicker
    @Flicker

    Steve C. (View Comment):
    Wasn’t the line “Better coffee a millionaire’s money can’t buy.”?

    I’m glad you picked up on that.  If you sing it, the rhythm is “BET ter COF fee a MIL yon AIRE er’s MO ney can’t BUY”  The “aires” is divided and held over for two notes.  And the word “a” was necessarily added, which also throws off the rhythm.  That’s because the jingle originally said ” BET ter COF fee ROC ke FEL ler’s MO ney can’t BUY”. The Rockefellers sued over the use of their name and the lyrics had to be changed.

    (And yes, you’re right, it is Better coffee a millionaire’s (or Rockefeller’s) money can’t buy.  I always got the negative switched in there for some reason.)

    • #24
  25. Eugene Kriegsmann Member
    Eugene Kriegsmann
    @EugeneKriegsmann

    When I was in graduate school at the University of Miami in the late 60s I had many Cuban friends. They got me into Cuban coffee which was made by taking very coarsely ground beans that were darkly roasted, and placing one tablespoon of grinds per cup of water with one extra for the pot, and one teaspoon of sugar into a sauce pan and boiling the mixture until the water was black. Then the mix was poured through a device that looked a lot like a drip coffee filter to remove the grinds. The result was a thick, almost syrupy coffee that would have you dancing on the ceiling if you weren’t used to drinking it. This was called Cafe Negro as opposed to what Americans drank which was referred to as Cafe Claro. In more recent times I have become something of a coffee snob. I learned a while back that the last thing you wanted to do was boil coffee since it made it very acidic. I suppose, in retrospect, that adding an enormous amount of sugar to the mix covered the acid and made it drinkable.

    Several years later I went on a climbing expedition to the Nuristan region of Afganistan. There I learned to drink tea in the manner of the natives of that region. Interestingly, sugar was a major component of their tea preparation as well. Our porters would brew up tea for us. The glasses in which the tea was served were filled from a quarter to a half full of sugar. The tea would be poured over the sugar but not stirred ( a sort of Bond martini). You would drink the sweetened tea down to the sugar and then add more tea. This would be repeated until the sugar was gone.  I found this to be a wonderful custom, and it was months before I got back into drinking coffee again after returning to the states. Somehow the enjoyment of the tea had been enhanced by the people serving it and wild environs in which it was drunk. I could never quite recapture that ambience at home.

    • #25
  26. KentForrester Coolidge
    KentForrester
    @KentForrester

    Eugene Kriegsmann (View Comment):

    When I was in graduate school at the University of Miami in the late 60s I had many Cuban friends. They got me into Cuban coffee which was made by taking very coarsely ground beans that were darkly roasted, and placing one tablespoon of grinds per cup of water with one extra for the pot, and one teaspoon of sugar into a sauce pan and boiling the mixture until the water was black. Then the mix was poured through a device that looked a lot like a drip coffee filter to remove the grinds. The result was a thick, almost syrupy coffee that would have you dancing on the ceiling if you weren’t used to drinking it. This was called Cafe Negro as opposed to what Americans drank which was referred to as Cafe Claro. In more recent times I have become something of a coffee snob. I learned a while back that the last thing you wanted to do was boil coffee since it made it very acidic. I suppose, in retrospect, that adding an enormous amount of sugar to the mix covered the acid and made it drinkable.

    Several years later I went on a climbing expedition to the Nuristan region of Afganistan. There I learned to drink tea in the manner of the natives of that region. Interestingly, sugar was a major component of their tea preparation as well. Our porters would brew up tea for us. The glasses in which the tea was served were filled from a quarter to a half full of sugar. The tea would be poured over the sugar but not stirred ( a sort of Bond martini). You would drink the sweetened tea down to the sugar and then add more tea. This would be repeated until the sugar was gone. I found this to be a wonderful custom, and it was months before I got back into drinking coffee again after returning to the states. Somehow the enjoyment of the tea had been enhanced by the people serving it and wild environs in which it was drunk. I could never quite recapture that ambience at home.

    Eugene, that’s a very exotic life you lead.  

    • #26
  27. SecondBite Member
    SecondBite
    @SecondBite

    My oldest son says that coffee is useless for keeping him awake, but it does keep him from going to sleep.  Worst of both worlds.  I, on the other hand, am headed for a java nap.  What a wonderful term!  Thanks, all, for a pleasant break.

    • #27
  28. Eugene Kriegsmann Member
    Eugene Kriegsmann
    @EugeneKriegsmann

    KentForrester (View Comment):
    Eugene, that’s a very exotic life you lead.

    I have always been more interested in experience than in making money. Now, at nearly 74, I have no regrets and an almost empty bucket list.

    BTW, Kent, I like your avatar. I own two Labradors and feel about dogs the way Jonah Goldberg does. They are the children of my senescence.

    • #28
  29. EHerring Coolidge
    EHerring
    @EHerring

    I have one of those coffeemakers but haven’t used it for years.  My Cuban professor got me started in grad school. 

    • #29
  30. Clifford A. Brown Contributor
    Clifford A. Brown
    @CliffordBrown

    She (View Comment):

    KentForrester (View Comment):

    Coffee has a soporific effect on me.

    Like lettuce?

    I appreciate the Beatrix Potter reference.

    • #30
Become a member to join the conversation. Or sign in if you're already a member.