Monday, July 04, 2011

'Caffeine-free' – In which the blogger tries to avoid a pious essayist style

I started to draft this post and discovered it was turning into an essay on caffeine and “why I don’t ‘use’ it any more”, then realised it was turning into one of horrible those pious health diatribes that often pop up in the media. So instead of turning myself into one of those pseudo-science bleating diet banner wavers, here are a list of simple things that I found / discovered that may or may not be of use…

Since the end of 2010 I have stopped drinking caffeine containing beverages (coffee, tea, cola, etc.).  It was something I had considered relatively briefly, my decision was only really firmed up after I had already ‘quit’ and I felt the benefit of my choice.

I gave up overnight, ‘cold-turkey’ as it is known, not because I especially intended to I just found it simpler to say “no” and adjust knowing that I might feel weird at times for a few days. Luckily I recognised what was happening when my head went fuzzy or groggy and went easy on myself to compensate.

Positive effects I found of being ‘caffeine-free’
1. Increased quality of sleep – I discovered that without it I could fall asleep far more rapidly, and enjoy a fuller night of rest (I have only suffered a couple of poor nights in over six months).
2. Faster 0-60mph time – I found that I am able to awake up and get going far more rapidly and smoothly (unless I have limited my hours of sleep badly by staying up very late for some reason).
3. Smoother mood throughout the day – there are no peaks or troughs pre- or post- intake. I feel calmer and find focus easier to find (and maintain). Interestingly I've realised in the last few days that it seems feeling calmer and less anxious has ended a long running nail chewing habit (an unexpected bonus).
4. Extremely regular bowel habit – never been a problem, but I noticed things were ‘neater’ and super regular (I am being British here and trying to preserve a little reserve, sorry).
5. I feel richer – no actually richer – I believe I am spending less in a given week. Through not buying takeaway coffees, caffeinated cola cans / bottles, and not having to replace very expensive jars of coffee in the cupboard (or office).

There are two caveats to add –
Firstly, I was a regular consumer, but not in as far as taking a fixed number of cups a day. People who have one cup each morning to get them going often report no issues. On top of a morning cup and regularly further drinks, I was perhaps taking on extra cups at particular phases of the week as I felt I ‘needed’ them.
Secondly, here is the only really science element to this post, we all respond to the actions of caffeine and caffeine containing drinks differently based on a range of physiological factors. So what I find you may or may not also be true for others.

Summary – I feel great for my choice, I was a little surprised at the difference I have to admit, and have to say I won’t be ‘going back’ for a cuppa any time soon.

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