Coffee Time: the ups and downs of caffeine dependence

September 8: time for a coffee.

I have a love hate relationship with caffeine. I love the part where it helps me to focus my mind on tasks. I feel productive. I feel unstoppable.

I hate the part where caffeine disturbs my sleep and wakes me up in the middle of the night with anxious thoughts. I hate the part where I need to have another cup the next day to feel somewhat normal. I hate the part where I feel lethargic after weeks or months of consuming the beverage.

I think today is particularly bad because it’s been a week since I’ve last had a coffee. Perhaps I’m feeling too relaxed at work. I have been somewhat productive though. I’ve plowed through a ton of emails and helped a variety of staff either face-to-face or through the phone.

I think it might be the weather. The sky is overcast. In August when the sun was at full force I felt better. But now with these clouds I’m going to need some extra stimulation from a drug, namely caffeine. I’ll be back in a few minutes.

Ahh the first few sips of a coffee after a one week hiatus are absolutely lovely. I saw somebody from work at Starbucks and it was nice to have a chat. The jazz music there also adds to the experience. I feel better.

The sun is shining a little more outside and in my head. I hope my sleep goes well tonight. Fingers crossed. I’ll report back on that as things progress. Typically I have been very sensitive to caffeine and have mostly been off of it since about 2004. I think fall and winter are the times when I am most tempted to consume the beverage due to the lack of outside light.

From my recent research caffeine can help with ADD like symptoms which I suppose most people probably suffer from. There was a great YouTube video I found the other day which featured a gentleman by the name of Michael Pollan. He stated that a brain on caffeine thinks in a more linear manner as opposed to a “sober” brain which does not. He found it difficult to do things like writing when caffeine was absent from his system because writing requires linear thinking to accomplish the task.

I found that after I had the coffee at 10:30 AM this morning I became more sociable and able to maintain conversations for a greater amount of time. Without the caffeine I was more introspective and introverted; my thoughts dwelt on something different. Perhaps there is more action and less contemplation when on caffeine. While contemplation is a good thing, too much can be disturbing in that there’s only so much time you’ll want to contemplate existence. It’s nice that caffeine actually allows us to be more present in this realm.

Thursday.

Well my sleep was ok last night and I had another coffee this morning. Good news. Better get back to work.

September 25.

So what does two weeks of caffeine consumption feel like? I noticed that I felt more tense. This morning I decided not to get a coffee and now at 3:30 feel very relaxed. I’ll see how this weekend goes and plan to abstain from caffeinated beverages. I notice that my breathing is deeper now. It felt more shallow when on caffeine. It will be interesting to see my breaking point which I crave the stimulant once again. I feel very calm right now. I’ve come to the conclusion that one week is my breaking point.

October 1.

Today is day 7 caffeine free and I must admit I’m feeling a tad bit lethargic. It’s 1:23 PM now. I went for a walk at lunch after eating spaghetti and meatballs at noon. It’s probably the pasta that spiked my insulin levels through the roof. Refined carbohydrates can be a real problem anytime whether on or off of coffee. I feel very relaxed and calm. This time I’m going to push through. I’m done with the hot bean water for good this time.

Over the past 7 days I have noticed my quality of sleep has improved dramatically. I sleep soundly through the night and have been waking up somewhat refreshed the past few days. This goes along with what I had been reading in Matthew Walker’s book called “Why We Sleep – Unlocking the Power of Sleep and Dreams.” I read this only 2 months ago and in the first chapter Dr. Walker advises against caffeine consumption as it will interfere with the brain’s adenosine receptors – i.e. it will block the receptors, delay the onset of sleep and interfere with the body’s circadian rhythm.

After some more research I noticed that screen time later into the evening can affect the quality of sleep as well. This is particularly related to smartphone and tablet use as these devices are very close to our eyes. Starting today, October 14th I’m going to abstain from these screens starting between 3:00 – 6:00 PM. After 6:00 PM it will be paper books only. We’ll see how that goes.

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