Caffeine has long been the drug of choice here in America because it works, we find it naturally, and we can use it day in and day out without extreme detriment to our health. Some even believe habitual caffeine use to be good for your health.
Caffeine stresses us out, but that may not be a bad thing.
Stress hormones can have positive effects such as improved focus, elevated energy levels, and increased alertness. Caffeine triggers our bodies to produce some stress hormones, as if we are preparing for a stressful event.
Caffeine triggers processes in our mind and body that prepare us for the worst.
Our heart rate increases, preparing our body for action. We become more alert, sensing any disruptions in our surroundings as potential threats to thwart. We may also become more irritable as a result of a heightened sense of danger.
In a physically undemanding world, caffeine has become the go to way for many of us to “wake up” in the morning. Where we once would awaken ourselves via the exercise of survival, we now guzzle down delicious cafe mocha cappuccinos. Through the power of caffeine our stress hormones prepare us for action without the need for physical exertion.
Exercise is another effective way to boost energy, though it is not as fast or effortless as consuming caffeine.
Finding the time for a 15–30 minute exercise routine each morning can be a challenge for early (or late) risers. This makes caffeine an easy fallback.
Caffeine’s effects last for quite a while.
Most people metabolize caffeine within 6 hours, while some take upwards of 12 hours to fully metabolize caffeine. What does this mean? Well, drinking caffeine has been known to disrupt sleep. If your body takes 6–12 hours to fully metabolize caffeine, you may have troubles sleeping within 6–12 hours of consumption.
Caffeine works best if you are fully hydrated.
Consuming caffeine while dehydrated can cause headaches or even lethargy, counteracting the sought after benefits. If you’re a coffee drinker, don’t hesitate to drink a glass of water or two with that morning cup of joe. While coffee isn’t as dehydrating as we once thought, you may still need some extra liquid in the morning to hydrate. During sleep our body uses a lot of water.
A little caffeine can make a difference.
Lighter doses of caffeine, say 15mg from a cup of green tea, can also be effective in curbing energy levels. The small dose is enough that you feel more alert while avoiding any jittery feelings. This can be an effective way to keep energy levels going during the work day without disrupting your sleep schedule.
How much caffeine is too much?
It depends on your body’s reaction to caffeine. A good rule of thumb is to limit your caffeine consumption in one day to about 300mg. This is around 2–3 cups of coffee. 100mg of caffeine is a safe, effective dose even for those who are beginning to build up a tolerance.
While you may never become as dependent upon caffeine as other substances, there are potential side effects from prolonged use. Building up a tolerance is one effect of prolonged use, much like any substance. Another effect of prolonged use is that of withdrawal symptoms. When taking a break from caffeine, one may experience lethargy, headaches, and irritability. These symptoms can last for a few days to a week or two. While not a serious detriment to health, the withdrawal symptoms can be a challenge to overcome.
If you find yourself too reliant upon caffeine and wish to avoid withdrawal symptoms, switch over to lower caffeine options such as: Lower caffeine coffee roasts, teas, and…
Don’t forget chocolate!
Chocolate, especially the darker varieties, is another way to consume caffeine. A small piece of intense dark chocolate can be an effective pick me up during your day. But chocolate late at night may disrupt sleep, due to the caffeine content.
Coupled with a healthy diet, proper sleep habits, and exercise, caffeine is an effective energy booster. While it is possible to go overboard on caffeine consumption, moderate use has been shown to increase productivity andcreativity. Remember that caffeine has a temporary effect and should not be relied upon for keeping energy levels up throughout the day. Instead, we recommend utilizing caffeine as a jump start to an energy filled day.
BONUS: Make people like you more!
Holding a warm drink in your hand has been shown to increase friendliness. A study at the University of Colorado Boulder demonstrated how “participants who briefly held a cup of hot coffee judged a target person as having a ‘warmer’ personality”. While the drink does not have to be coffee, we find that the more excuses to drink hot tea or coffee we have, the better!