It was my personal trainer who first told me that I had a caffeine dependency. This might seem exaggerated as I was drinking four cups of coffee a day. So I dove into this topic.
Beware that caffeine is ubiquitous. The following products contain approximately these amounts of caffeine:
- Filtered coffee: 85 mg
- Instant coffee: 60 mg
- Espresso: 65 mg
- Decaf coffee: 3 mg
- Tea: 30 mg
- Cola: 18 mg
- Icetea: 16 mg
- Energy drink: 80 mg
- Pure chocolate: 14 mg
- Milk chocolate: 6 mg
- Pain killers: 100 mg
- Diet pills: 100 mg
Yes, decaf actually still contains caffeine.
When you are taking more than 100 mg of caffeine a day, you might be caffeine dependent. Please note that this already is the case when you drink more than one coffee a day.
For many people, a cup of coffee in the morning is a ritual to start the new day and get the necessary energy.
This actually works because caffeine suppresses adenosine, a chemical that regulates sleep pressure in your brain. The longer you are awake, the higher sleep pressure gets and the more sleepy you become.
When you sleep, sleep pressure drops. That’s why you’re not tired anymore after getting enough sleep.
So caffeine blocks the brain’s receptors that are activated by adenosine. Basically, it’s the world’s most commonly abused psychoactive drug to suppress the effects of sleep deprivation.
Obviously, it’s better to get enough sleep than to suppress signals. Caffeine is hiding a brains’ important signal. Ignoring that can have devastating consequences in the long-term.
Sleep disruption is also a very common effect, as caffeine has a half-life of 5 to 7 hours, meaning a strong cup of coffee taken 10 hours before bed still leaves 30 mg caffeine active in your system.
This means that, when you drink a cup of coffee at 7:30 pm, half of the caffeine is still actively circulating in your brain at midnight. This makes it harder to fall asleep and makes you sleep lighter and eventually results in sleep deprivation.
People think caffeine is only working within the 30-90 minutes that you feel the kick and it’s wearing off when it’s only just past its peak. That’s actually not true at all.
I decided to try it out and abstain from caffeine for one week to test if I noticed any symptoms. You bet I did. I suffered mayor headaches, fatigue, decreased energy and depressed mood.
After 10 days of abstinence the brain’s receptors are reset and your dependence should be over. After that, I limited my caffeine intake to three or four cups of high quality coffee a week, when I work in coffee bars (i.e. no filtered or instant crap). Beyond that, I don’t take caffeine anymore.
This makes every cup taste more intense and better. The caffeine has stronger effects on me, gives me a lot of energy, makes me more creative and less anxious. And I sleep way better. Also because I only take it in the morning.
Your best bet is to limit your caffeine intake to less than 100 mg a day, for only three times a week and only in the morning. Afterwards, you’ll be surprised how good that can make you feel.
Oh, I actually wrote this article while sipping on a hot café latte with a chocolate birthday cake, how awkward ?.
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