Do You Actually NEED Coffee?
It’s 6:00 AM and your alarm rings. You consider ignoring the alarm to enjoy the warmth of your bed - but decide that the annoying noise is just too annoying to ignore, so you reach for the snooze button and fall back to sleep for another 10 minutes. The same thing happens again in another 10 minutes time, and again another 10 minutes after that.
You repeat this cycle over the next hour and this morning routine continues for the remainder of the week. You feel drained and your head feels heavy as you rise out of bed, so you say to yourself that you NEED to have a coffee to even function normally.
Because of course, without that coffee you don’t feel normal.
Now don’t get me wrong, we’ve all been there. Life gets in the way. Bills need to be paid, kids need to be fed and staying up late to watch that TV box set on Netflix can be far too tempting. Unfortunately today’s culture has seen the importance of sufficient sleep being side-lined for other immediately gratifying things.
Once again, health is left by the wayside.
Do you ever take a step back and say to yourself; ‘why am I so tired all of the time?’ There could be a number of factors at play here including and not limited to; a diet lacking in a wide variety of nutrients, chronic dehydration or even the stress of a looming deadline. As you have probably already guessed, today I want to concentrate on caffeine.
First a disclaimer before a witch hunt ensues. There is nothing inherently wrong with caffeine. It has a number of health benefits and has been shown to improve exercise performance, cognitive function, concentration and who doesn't like to meet up with friends at the local Costa?
But for a lot of people the devil is in the dose and timing.
Habitual coffee consumption can lead to tolerance
Drinking a lot of caffeine can limit many of its ergogenic (or performance) effects. This is why a lot of bodybuilders or performance athletes up the ante when it comes to pre-workouts. They will reach for the craziest (usually alien green/purple colour) brand because the previous one has lost its effect.
What happens is that the same dosage doesn’t quite give you the same effect. The user doesn’t get the same physiological kick they are used to. It hasn’t stopped working; you’ve just become tolerant to it.
Caffeine has a half-life of 6 hours
If you have a 200mg coffee at 12:00 PM, by 6:00 PM you will still have 100mg of caffeine left in your system. You can see what will happen if you continue to drink caffeine well into the afternoon. A second brew at 6:00 PM will mean that you have 200mg on top of the (now) 50mg from the first coffee still in your system at 12:00AM. This can be why so many people struggle to get to sleep, simply because there is caffeine still knocking about when they are trying to wind down for 40 winks.
This can then have a knock-on effect the next day when you struggle to wake up and so reach for another coffee to perk yourself up. This vicious cycle can habitually continue for years with the user wondering why.
Some people are more sensitive to caffeine then others
If drinking caffeine gives you side effects such as palpitations, nervousness, restlessness or even nausea you should consider that you may be highly sensitive to the stuff. Caffeine should give you a nice steady rise of energy and not leave you a jittery, nervous wreck. If this applies to you, just consider to yourself, is it really worth it?
How can we avoid this?
If you are looking to reduce caffeine intake, it has been shown that weaning off slowly rather than going cold turkey can limit withdrawal symptoms such as headaches (don’t forget caffeine is a drug and can be addictive.) Reduce your intake by dropping back to ¼ cup each day until you are happy with your dosage or have stopped entirely.
Another alternative is decaf. Those of you that love the taste but don’t want the affect can opt for a decaf alternative. That way you can still enjoy a great time with friends and need not worry about it. If your friends think you’re crazy for drinking decaf, refer them to this post so they too, can contemplate their caffeine habits!