My Love-Hate Relationship With Caffeine
“No, don’t stop!”
Now getcher mind outta tha gutter! I’m talking about “caffeine,” not whatever kinky thing that was flitting through your mind! ;-)
Caffeine how I love thee! Thou nectar of the gods that allows me to survive the morning!
Caffeine how I hate thee! Thou foul tempter that leadeth my body from the righteous path of healthy living!
My last post was a general information article about caffeine with my usual bit of comedy thrown in for good measure. Of course what other people refer to as “comedy” I like to call “my life.” :-) After describing a typical day in my love/hate relationship with caffeine I arrived at the conclusion that I should definitely lower my intake of caffeine.
Why you ask, dear reader? Good question. Let me count the ways:
Reason No. 1 — Caffeine is messing up my sleepy time!
Caffeine is a stimulant. In moderate doses, it can:
- Increase alertness
- Reduce fine motor coordination
- Cause insomnia
- Cause headaches, nervousness and dizziness
It has also been known to result in:
- Rapid heartbeat
- Excessive urination
- Sleep disturbance
- A “caffeine crash” once the effects wear off
How Caffeine Works or WHY it is messing up my sleepy time!
Ok, it may seem that I’m being a bit obvious here but caffeine is a stimulant.
No, not the kinky kind. That would be Viagra. You people should be ashamed of yourself thinking those thoughts! (For those of you have gone into the weird and wonderful mind of Tony before, you’ll now note that he’s engaged in his three favorite activities: (1) digression, (2) talking about himself in the third person, otherwise know as the “royal we” [can we say drama diva?], and (3) transference where he takes the nasty little gutter thoughts that he has all the time and “transfers” them onto you, the innocent undeserving and falsely accused blog reading audience, all ten of you who are actually reading this blog.) Now back to the topic at hand.
Caffeine is a stimulant. Well, kinda. It is actually a bit more complicated than that. As long as you are awake your brain produces something called ” adenosine” which acts as a kind of natural brake for your brain and body. When levels of adenosine get too high your body starts saying “Yo, dude, you’re gettin’ tired, so lay off and head to bed”.
But for the bits of adenosine to work they have to plug into these things called receptors which monitor how much adenosine there is in your system. These receptors are like tiny little bottles or scales. As they fill up, you feel more tired. Enter Caffeine. Bits of caffeine will fit into those bottles THUS blocking the real adenosine from doing so. Imposter! What a scam!
Let’s recap: Caffeine is a sneaky little bugger that looks chemically a LOT like adenosine. The poor receptors are fooled by the scam and voila! Your body is fooled into thinking there is less adenosine in your system than actually exists. Neat huh? Eventually though the caffeine breaks down and the trick is discovered and BAM ya gotta get some sleep. Payback is a b*tch!
BOTTOM LINE; Caffeine messes around with the body’s natural rhythms. And once in your system caffeine takes several hours for it to burn itself out. Depending on the person, the exact number of hours can vary widely based on a number of variables, body size, gender, age, just how hooked on caffeine you are and your level of tolerance for the drug. A good rule of thumb is to not consume any caffeine within 5-8 hours before bedtime.
Reason No. 2 — Tolerance means “no buzz” in the mornings
When you have been a Java Junkie as long as I have you need the caffeine just to feel normal–forget about getting a “buzz”. Caffeine in moderation does has some positive benefits but not for the junkie. So I’m kicking the “habit” so that when I do have my morning coffee, the effect will carry more benefit a.k.a “buzz”. Face it, no matter what I do, no matter how healthy I become, I’ll NEVER be a “morning person.’ I need that buzz! Future husbands should take special note of the preceding statement. You’ve been warned. ;-)
Reason No. 3 — Can we say “stress?”
My friends will readily tell you that this past year has been a very stressful one for me. And, for the record, I am deeply grateful to my friends who have put up with me being me as the year has progressed. It has not been a fun time.
There are some studies which show a correlation between use of caffeine and an increase in anxiety. Or “stress” in other words. While obviously not the only factor and probably not even a major factor contributing to my stressful life, it seems obvious that if any contributing factor can be eliminated, why not go ahead and eliminate it?
Reason No. 4 — Diet Cola as a source of caffeine
I’ll go into this in more detail in a later post, but I wanted to touch on it now because a significant amount of the caffeine that I consume comes from Diet Coke. There have been studies that show a correlation between consuming large quantities of diet soda and weight gain.
Reason No. 5 — Possible connection with bone loss
There have been some studies that connect heavy caffeine usage with an increase in bone loss. Since my family has a history of osteoporosis, I figure why take the chance? Better to cut back now and play it safe than to take the risk.
Reason No. 6 — High Blood Pressure
There have been some studies which show that caffeine can contribute to high blood pressure. There is no doubt that it does cause a short-term increase in blood pressure. And since I daily take a anti-high blood pressure medication, adding this additional element of stress to my blood system is probably not such a good idea.
So, you see now why I’ve put “reduce daily intake of caffeine” on my “get healthy check-list“. Wish me luck. It won’t be easy kicking the habit but if junkies hooked to more serious drugs can detox, so can I!
See ya on the dance floor!
Related Articles / Links
- Caffeine, Straight Up! Confessions of a Java Junkie (txcowboydancer.wordpress.com)
- How To Break Your Daily Caffeine Habit And Use Coffee Strategically [Caffeine] (lifehacker.com)
- Caffeine MedlinePlus — National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (www.nlm.nih.gov)
- Caffeine and Your Body Food and Drug Administration (www.fda.gov)
- “How Caffeine Works” Brain, Marshall, Charles W. Bryant and Matt Cunningham, 01 April 2000. (HowStuffWorks.com)
- “TECHNICAL NOTE: Caffeine Content of Specialty Coffees;” McCusker R.R., Goldberger B.A., and Cone E.J.; Journal of Analytical Toxicology, V. 27, No. 7, Oct 2003 , pp. 520-522.
- Caffeine Content for Coffee, Tea, Soda and More (Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research)
- Caffeine: Can It Help Me Lose Weight? (Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research)
- Caffeine and Sleep [Video] (Harvard Medical School)
- Caffeine in the Diet MedlinePlus — National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (www.nlm.nih.gov)
- Caffeine and the Effects on the Body (www.overcaffeinated.org)
- Buzz by Stephen Braun A 224 page book which was released in 1997; it remains the most accessible treatise on what is and isn’t understood about what caffeine and alcohol do to the brain. It’s not a social history of coffee, or a lecture on the evils of mass-market soda—it’s condensed but clean science.
- What Caffeine Actually Does to Your Brain (lifehacker.com)
- How does caffeine affect the body? (www.scientificamerican.com)
- Caffeine and Sleep (www.sleepfoundation.org)
- Caffeine effects on learning, performance, and anxiety in normal school-age children. (Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry.. 1994 Mar-Apr;33(3):407-15.)
- Tips for Overcoming Anxiety (www.dop.wa.gov)
- Is caffeine consumption a risk factor for osteoporosis? (Journal of bone and mineral research. 1992 Apr;7(4):465-71.)
- How does caffeine affect blood pressure? (www.mayoclinic.com)