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Caffeine Caffeine Alternative Productivity Side Effects Sleep

Caffeine-Free Productivity?

Caffeine-Free Productivity?

Yeah, right!

Sometimes when I’m in a work or semi social environment and I say “Thanks, but no thanks” to coffee, an inquisitive soul asks what’s wrong with coffee. 

I usually say nothing much, but sometimes I tell them about coffee and caffeine’s affects on the body and mind, whilst reassuring them that moderate consumption is ok.

Most leave it at that, but there are still the few that say something like “I don’t know how you function without it?”

From now on I’ll point them to this article.

Working man behind a mug
Photo by Javier Molina @javier1997mo on Unsplash Working man behind a mug

Caffeine For Productivity

Caffeine can work wonders when you settle down to work through a task, helping you to get the job done.

Feeling a bit groggy? Can’t think straight? Struggling to stay awake? Then have a cup of mud and you’re good to go; but are you really?

1,3,7 trimethylxanthine, or caffeine is a member of the methylated xanthines chemical family, which are toxic to the human body. In low doses they do little harm, but people have died taking higher doses.

Fake Energy

The energy you have available to you at any given time is the energy you have available. It is common for people to believe that coffee and caffeine gives them energy, but not think about where that energy comes from.

Adenosine is a brain chemical that is widely known for causing drowsiness. It is produced in our brains as a by-product of ATP, the source of energy for all cells in the body.

As we go through the day, adenosine levels in the brain build up latching onto adenosine receptors within our neurons which then produce a concoction of proteins that suppress nerve cell activity and make us feel sleepy.

Caffeine does it’s magic by binding to the adenosine receptors in our brains without stimulating the release of the chemicals that suppress neuron activity, masking the fact that we are tired.

Scientists suggest that a little caffeine is not harmful, but too much can have negative side effects such as:

  • Insomnia
  • Tremors
  • Nausea
  • Chest pain
  • Heart palpitations

“In fact, over a three-year period, the Illinois Poison Center in Chicago counted more than 250 cases of medical complications that involved caffeine, 12% of which ended in hospitalization. The average age of the patients was 21, suggesting that young people are particularly prone to overindulging in caffeine. So be careful not to overdo it!”

Kristin Harper, So Tired in the Morning… The Science of Sleep, December 2014/January 2015, American Chemical Society

Real Productivity Hacks

Now to answer the, “how do you function without it?” part.

It depends. I personally have found that the many lifestyle changes that I’ve made over the years have helped tremendously. If your situation is due to an illness or deficiency seek qualified medical assistance.

As everyone is different I have listed the more general things that have worked for me, but the key here is to realize that there is no one cure for fatigue or tiredness and that you will have to find what combination works best for you.

  • Get more in tune with your body’s circadian rhythm, or body clock, and go to bed between 9pm and 10pm daily. Your body starts releasing melatonin around 9pm and if you are in bed around this time your deepest sleep should occur naturally around 2am.
  • Do more daily exercise.
    It doesn’t have to be anything strenuous and could be an extra 25 to 30 minute walk every day. Exercise helps you to achieve deeper sleep, and the effects on your energy are almost immediate.
  • Take short breaks when working before you start to feel tired.
    Most people don’t realize how tired they are until their productivity starts to fall off. V-CAF is an Apple Watch app that subtly notifies you when you are tired so that you can take the necessary measures to get back on track.
  • Avoid caffeine and drink lots of water.
    The most direct of all the tips listed here. As I’ve outlined, caffeine hides your tiredness from you. Tiredness is natural and by knowing when you are tired you can take measures to take back control of your life. 

Review

So that’s how I do it. By reducing my caffeine intake (I still eat chocolate from time to time), and being more active, as well as going to bed at a set time most days, I’m actually doing better than when I was drinking coffee to get through the day.

Here are the takeaways:

  • Listen to your body clock. Get to bed between 9pm and 10pm.
  • Go for more long walks (25 to 30 minutes every day should help).
  • Give yourself micro breaks when working and feeling tired (use V-CAF to notify you when you are tired).
  • Reduce, or even better, cut out caffeine from your diet.

Final Thoughts

It is possible to be very productive without the use of caffeine. 

Most people find it hard to believe, but it is possible. Maybe their caffeine dependency is clouding their perception of reality and they don’t realize it yet.

Why not try giving up caffeine for a while? What have you got to loose?

Categories
Caffeine Caffeine Alternative Energy

Are Energy Drinks Dangerous?

Waking Up To The Dangers of Energy Drinks

Wake up…

The amount of people that consume energy drinks is increasing. Drinkers are looking for more energy, alertness and stamina, but aren’t necessarily aware of the amount of caffeine they are ingesting. 

Unaware that it is possible to be poisoned by caffeine, many consume more than the recommended daily limits of 400mg.

Unfortunately, because caffeine is a drug, you can develop a tolerance to it, which in turn leads to an ever-increasing amount of consumption to get the same effects.

In this article I’ll point out some of the dangers related to increased caffeine consumption due to drinking energy drinks.

Mercy Monster
Photo by thom masat @tomterifx on Unsplash Mercy Monster, San Francisco, United States

Caffeine Unawareness

A consequence of the increasing consumption of energy drinks is a rise in unintentional caffeine poisoning.

Consumers of energy drinks may think that they are harmless and overlook the dangers that they are exposing themselves too.

Compounding the problem is that many caffeine energy drinks do not list the amount of caffeine they contain, and are marketed as healthy dietary supplements because they contain ingredients such as milk thistle or ginkgo.

The Damage Caused by Drinking Too Many Energy Drinks

Caffeine is already seen as an acceptable drug by society, and few see any issues with consuming it. In fact it’s seen as being a valuable productivity aid.

Of late, energy drinks have also been increasingly used as a weight loss aid and as a strength booster whilst exercising.

Doctors and medical professionals are unsure about the long-term affects of over stimulating your nervous system.

By regularly consuming more than 400mg per day of caffeine you increase the likelihood that you will suffer from the following ailments:

  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Convulsions
  • Increased heart rate (possibly Tachycardia)
  • Abdominal pain

Know Your Limits

Being aware of the dangers of drinking too much caffeine is the first step in protecting your health. The next is to take action.

Below are some alternative tips to help you get the positive effects of drinking energy drinks, without caffeine:

  • Drink water
    Increasing your water intake can help boost your focus.
  • Do regular exercise
    Regular exercise can boost your strength and stamina, as well as help increase your focus and alertness.
  • Take notice of your tiredness
    Take note of when you are tired and work with your body’s natural rhythm. Tiredness alarms such as V-CAF subtly alert you to when you are most likely to be tired, so you can take the appropriate action.
  • Get better quality sleep
    Quantity of sleep isn’t enough. By also having better quality sleep you can increase weight loss, increase productivity and boost your mood.

Summary

People have died due to over consuming energy drinks. Researchers think that it is the lack of public awareness to the dangers of drinking too much caffeine that has lead to these deaths.

By being aware of the elevated caffeine levels in energy drinks you can help protect your health.

To avoid drinking energy drinks:

  • Drink lots of water
  • Have a regular exercise routine
  • Take notice of your tiredness by using tiredness alarms such as V-CAF 
  • Get better quality sleep

Conclusion

Caffeine is becoming more popular as an ingredient in many food and drink products, making it difficult to keep track on how much caffeine we consume.

It may be wise to limit the amount of caffeine that we consume each day so that we don’t unwittingly poison ourselves.