Categories
Caffeine Addiction Caffeine Alternative Staying Awake

Is Your Caffeine Dependency Your Key to Success?

Every Cloud Has One…

Silver Linings Everywhere

A lot of people don’t realise that they have a caffeine dependency. Usually they don’t notice how caffeine influences how they feel throughout the day and how it even affects the quality of their sleep.

Realisation, when it comes, can be sudden and brutal! The blow to their self esteem can be massive and make them feel like their world has ended.

And to be blunt, it has, but not in the way that they may think.

Is Your Caffeine Dependency Your Key to Success?
Photo by Kira auf der Heide @kadh on Unsplash, Baja California, Ensenada, Mexico, woman in black and white striped top holding white ceramic mug, Cologne, Germany

Dependency

Addictions don’t happen over night, they grow on you. The substance or behaviour starts off by making you feel good. Gradually you start to crave more and more, eventually leading to bingeing bouts.

These binging bouts help form habits in the addict that eventually lead to addiction. The addict soon finds that it becomes difficult to function normally when they don’t get their fix.

Unfortunately, they find that their fix is not enough to overcome the withdrawal symptoms. Soon their sense of well being is dependent on how long they can survive until their next fix.

Lost Focus

The cruel thing about addictions is that many don’t realise that they even have an addiction, and if it’s pointed out to them they becomes defensive.

In my own case with caffeine, I thought that I was in control and could stop at any time that I wanted. People warned me and I felt that I knew best until my hands started shaking after drinking too much coffee.

For many caffeine addicts it’s all too easy to dismiss the tell tale signs of addiction and withdrawal as just down to not feeling well, or being tired.

As a test to see if you have a caffeine addiction, try giving up caffeine in all forms for three days, starting from now. If you feel you suffer from any of the listed symptoms, you may have a caffeine addiction:

  • Headaches
  • Tiredness
  • Nausea
  • Irritability
  • Anxiousness
  • Depression
  • Inability to focus

Using the Darkness

If you feel that you might be addicted to caffeine, it’s not all doom and gloom. The fact that you are aware of it is a good sign. The next step is to figure out what to do about it , if anything.

Having an addiction of any kind may be a sign that things in your life aren’t as you would like them to be. The addiction is your subconscious ’s way of letting you know that you need to pay attention to something that you are neglecting about yourself.

There is no quick fix to an addiction and relapses are common. If you take the time to observe and learn about yourself, not only will you eventually find out what is driving you to the addiction, but you’ll also find a wealth of positive aspects about your own nature that you may have taken for granted.

Also, by continually observing and learning about yourself you’ll be in a better position to figure out the times and scenarios when your cravings are at their highest, and as such take precautions to minimise or avoid them.

Dependency Revisited

In addition to observing yourself and finding out what your caffeine addiction’s triggers are, you can also help your cause by:

  • Getting more sleep
    A good nights sleep is crucial for overcoming a caffeine addiction. Your willpower is stronger and intention is more focused after good quality sleep, which makes it easier to get over your cravings.
  • Exercising more
    When you feel lethargic, get your body moving. The act of walking helps wake you up, which is what many people say they drink coffee and tea for.
  • Using alternatives to caffeine to help keep you awake
    A rising trend is to drink herbal teas and fruit juices as a tasty alternative to drinking caffeine. The idea is to drink the alternatives when you feel the craving for a coffee or tea coming on.
    Our take on the problem is to use V-CAF, our Apple Watch app. It works by letting you know when you are tired so that you can take a break from whatever you are doing and wake yourself up.

What’s Next

Reading this article was the easy part. Now the true test of inner strength begins.

Use the points and tips in this article to help you beat your caffeine addiction, but also use your addiction as a catalyst for change for the better.

Good Luck and Stay Strong

Categories
Alert Caffeine Focus Productivity Staying Awake Study Studying

Coffee vs Tea for Studying

Choose Your Poison

Study This Study About Studying

In the past when studying for exams or to learn a new subject at work, I resorted to coffee and/or caffeine pills to keep me alert.

Some colleagues used to tell me to drink tea as it does less harm to your body than coffee. Others swore that coffee is the best at keeping you alert and getting the job done, and did I know “that green tea contains more caffeine than coffee?”

After looking at the little research that’s out there, I figured out what was best for me and outline how I came to that conclusion in this article.

Coffee or Tea? Which One Is Better?
Photo by Dan Preindl @preindl on Unsplash, Little Bourke Street, Melbourne, Australia

Depending on Coffee or Tea for Alertness

For a lot of people, drinking coffee or tea helps them feel more alert and therefore more productive whilst working. 

Whenever I had a difficult subject to study for, or was feeling tired, I would instinctively go for a cup of coffee, which once drunk, made me feel that I could get the work done. 

For others, like my friend Jason, tea was the way to go. He felt that he didn’t get such a fast caffeine high, and therefore caffeine low as when he drunk coffee, whilst still feeling more alert than he did before he drunk his tea. “Each to their own”, I used to reply.

I now think that Jason might have been onto something. Although tea contains more caffeine than coffee in its dry form, once brewed, coffee has significantly more caffeine than tea (depending on the types of tea and coffee being compared).

Further, according to TeaClass.com:

“The high levels of antioxidants found in tea slow the absorption of caffeine – this results in a gentler increase of the chemical in the system and a longer period of alertness with no crash at the end.”

The Truth About Caffeine

Jason was right and I was wrong. Better switch over to drinking tea to get more productive, right?

Is Drinking Either Coffee or Tea the Solution?

The thing is, is that both coffee and tea contain caffeine; a stimulant that tricks your brain into thinking that it’s not as tired as it really is, and as a result makes you think that you are more alert and productive.

Back to feelings. Many confuse the feeling of alertness that caffeine induces to be a sign of the potential for increased productivity and enhanced mental performance. Unfortunately, just like how caffeine tricks the brain into thinking that it is less tired than it really is, this enhanced productivity is also a delusion.

“While caffeine benefits motor performance and tolerance develops to its tendency to increase anxiety/jitteriness, tolerance to its effects on sleepiness means that frequent consumption fails to enhance mental alertness and mental performance.”

Rogers, Peter, Susan Heatherley, Emma Mullings, and Jessica Smith. “Faster but not smarter: effects of caffeine and caffeine withdrawal on alertness and performance.” Psychopharmacology 226.2 (2013): 229-240.

So, What Works?

Getting more quality sleep works best, hands down. The benefits of regular, good quality sleep are so numerous, I’ll have to write a separate article detailing them.

In the meantime, here are some tips that you can use to help your study/work be more effective:

  • Get into Rhythm 
    Organize your life to match your body’s circadian rhythm. Wake up at around 7am (melatonin stops being released by this time).
    Do your most important work between 10am and 12pm.
    Between 12pm-2pm is usually when we have our midafternoon crash, so avoid difficult work during this time.
    Our body hits peak energy around 6:30pm so if you’re still working start to slowly wind down your efforts.
    Resist the temptation to pull an all-nighter, and try to get to bed around 10pm.
  • Drink Water
    Keeping yourself hydrated will help keep you alert whilst keeping fatigue and tiredness at bay and reducing the risk of headaches and poor concentration.
  • Take Regular Breaks
    When you feel yourself getting fatigued, take a break and get up and move around. 
    The reality is, is that most people don’t realize when they are tired until they are so tired that it can’t be ignored! V-CAF is an Apple Watch app that subtly notifies you to move around and take a natural break when your body says that you are tired.
  • Exercise
    Take the time to incorporate exercise into your daily routine. It could be as simple as a 25-30 minute walk each day or walking upstairs instead of taking the elevator. Exercise helps improve your focus and concentration as well as increasing the quality of your sleep. And the effects can be felt immediately. 

Review

If you have to choose between coffee and tea to help keep you awake, then I would suggest tea. However, I think this is a false dichotomy. The third option is to avoid caffeine and make lifestyle changes that in the long term benefit your health as well as your productivity.

Some of these choices include:

  • Get into your body’s circadian rhythm.
  • Drink more water
  • Take Regular Breaks and use a tool such as V-CAF that subtly notifies you to move around and take a natural break.
  • Exercise regularly.

Conclusion

Study and work goals are important parts of our lives, but not the only part.

One of the most fundamental parts of our lives is sleep. By sacrificing our sleep, we are damaging all other parts of our lives.

Knowing that a single night of sleep deprivation can decrease our cognitive performance by 30%, does it really make sense to reduce the amount of time we spend sleeping to get more studying/work done?

Categories
Caffeine Caffeine Alternative Energy Exercise Side Effects Staying Awake Tiredness

How to Stay Awake Without Caffeine

Five Tips to Staying Awake Without Caffeine

Five steps to greatness…

Need to stay awake but don’t want to use caffeine? 

In this post I’ll share 5 tips with you that will beat that tiredness slump.

Where's my coffee?
Photo by Dominik QN @dominik_qn on Unsplash

Caffeine and Staying Awake

It is tempting to just use caffeine and be done with it. It works. It keeps us awake and makes us feel more alert and focused. Plus it’s easy and widely available and everybody uses it.

Which is true up to a certain point. Caffeine doesn’t technically boost our energy and make us feel more awake. It masks our tiredness from us, giving us a temporary boost, which makes us feel less tired.

For short term fixes it’s not too bad, but it is easy to become over dependent on the effects that caffeine has on our nervous system to get us through those tired patches.

Side Effects

Drinking five or more cups of coffee daily can create a caffeine dependency. This doesn’t include sodas and foods that contain caffeine. Most people are unaware of how much caffeine they consume every day, and with caffeine finding its way into more foods, beverages, supplements and medicines, the dangers of accidental overdose are increasing.

Compounding this issue is the fact that the more caffeine you are exposed to, the greater your tolerance of it’s effects, which then leads to more caffeine having to be consumed to get the same or similar effects.

Increased caffeine consumption can cause the following symptoms:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Increased heart rate

How to Stay Awake

This list of five techniques will help you stay awake for the short term. For more long-term tips read my article on staying awake.

  1. Do something fun.
    Boredom or uninteresting tasks bring on the yawns and make you feel more tired than you need to be. Take a break, watch something funny or play a game. This will stimulate you and help reduce the feeling of tiredness.
  2. Get out in the sun or work in a bright environment. 
    Being in dark environments not only makes you feel more tired, but can make you feel depressed. If you find yourself in this situation, going out in the sun or having bright lights on inside will help reduce the production of melatonin, and keep you awake a bit longer. 
  3. Take regular breaks. 
    People are usually pretty bad at working out how tired they are. Long work stretches without breaks decrease performance as you become more tired. Using a tiredness monitor such as V-CAF will help notify you when you are tired so that you can take a natural break without your productivity decreasing.
  4. Plan your most difficult tasks to start around 10am. 
    Assuming that you get to bed by 10pm and wake up at 7am, your peak concentration time will be around 10am. This due to your body’s melatonin production naturally reducing.
  5. Eat and drink well. 
    Fueling your body with non processed whole foods and drinking lots of water will enable you to concentrate better due to your blood sugar levels being kept even without high and low spikes throughout the day.

Review

Some long-term caffeine users find it difficult to believe that anyone can make it through the day without caffeine.

I think the real reason is that when faced with the choice between withdrawal or quick fix, the fix wins.

Anyways, here are my short-term tips to staying awake without caffeine:

  • Do something fun
  • Go outdoors into the sun or be somewhere bright.
  • Take regular breaks.
  • Eat and drink well.

Last Point

I left out one more tip, but I think it’s central to all the others. 

Be motivated. Without motivation it becomes difficult to succeed using any of the tips that I presented above.

If you really want to stay awake without caffeine, be motivated in the steps you choose to make that your reality.

Categories
Caffeine Side Effects Sleepiness Staying Awake Tiredness

Would You Pay For Worse Sleep?

Would You Pay For Worse Sleep?

A good night’s sleep is priceless

We humans like the effects that caffeine has on us. It is one of the worlds most consumed stimulants and can be found in a variety of food, drink, and medical supplements.

However, there is a growing body of evidence that points to caffeine being responsible for interfering with our sleep and may be responsible for daytime sleepiness. 

Customer experience
Photo by Toa Heftiba @heftiba on Unsplash Customer experience, Camber Coffee, Newcastle upon Tyne, United Kingdom

I’m Tired, Where’s The Coffee

It’s common for us to associate coffee and caffeine with alertness. So much so that we have hundreds of coffee phrases such as “Once you wake up and smell the coffee, it’s hard to go back to sleep” and  “I don’t have a problem with caffeine. I have a problem without it.”

For many people a coffee first thing in the morning helps wake them up and sets them straight for the day, but by the time they get to work they need another, then another.

What most don’t realize is that it might be the caffeine that is making them feel tired in the first place!

Increased Tiredness

Various population-based studies suggest that ingesting more than the recommended daily limit for caffeine can be linked to daytime sleepiness. 
Ohayon MM, Malijai C, Pierre P. Guilleminault C, Priest RG. How sleep and mental disorders are related to complaints of daytime sleepiness. Arch Intern Med 1997;157(22):2645-52.

A Sleep Habits and Caffeine Use study of workers for the French National Gas and Electricity Company found a link between an increase of consumption of caffeine and the decrease of time spent in bed. The association suggests that caffeine is shortening sleep.
Sanchez-Ortuno M, Moore N, Taillard J, Valtat C, Leger D, Bioulac B, et al. Sleep duration and caffeine consumption in a French middle-aged working population. Sleep Med 2005;6:247-51.

Daily moderate to low usage of caffeine can interfere with your sleep and contribute to some people’s insomnia complaints; but stopping caffeine consumption can cause people to experience excessive sleepiness.

Decrease Tiredness

If you don’t consume a lot of caffeine then cycling your caffeine intake will keep you balanced without affecting your energy too much. That is, enjoy your caffeine product as usual but take a couple of days a week where you don’t have any. 

If you do consume a lot of caffeine then it may be best to gradually wean yourself off over several weeks. If you suffer from withdrawal, use the following:

  • Keep yourself occupied.
    By keeping busy you will have less time to think about your cravings.
  • Exercise.
    It helps lift your mood and helps you to have better quality sleep.
  • Have a sleep routine.
    Choose a time to go to bed and to wake up and stick to it. Be mindful of falling asleep during the day, and use a tiredness monitor like V-CAF. V-CAF will notify you when you are most likely to fall asleep, helping you to stay awake during the day.
  • Eat nutrient rich foods and drink plenty of water.
    Fuelling your body with the right foods and drinking water helps raise your energy over time.

Review

Over reliance on caffeine is causing us to deplete our energy levels. Reducing our caffeine intake or cutting it out completely can help reverse this trend but may initially make us feel even more tired.

Withdrawal tips:

  • Keep busy
  • Exercise
  • Stick to your sleep routine. 
  • Use a tiredness monitor, like V-CAF to keep you awake during the day.
  • Eat whole foods and drink plenty of water.

Conclusion

Your body deserves the best treatment that you can provide. Using caffeine ultimately takes from you and gives very little back.

Spend your time and energy on the things that will help enhance your life, not on things that cost you money and give you suffering.

Start giving back by following the advise in this post and making the right lifestyle changes.

You deserve it.

Categories
Addiction Caffeine Caffeine Addiction

How to Build a Plan Against Caffeine Addiction

How to Build a Battle Plan Against Caffeine Addiction

Win the war against addiction

You’ve finally done it. You’ve decided to give up caffeine once and for all. That’s great, and well done; but where to start? What’s needed to succeed?

In this article we’ll walk through the process of creating a plan that will help you to conquer your caffeine addiction! 

Planning
Photo by oxana v @arttravelling on Unsplash my work space. I’m the founder of the company Arttravelling ( travel for artist)

Wanting to Quit

We all know that addictions are difficult to overcome. Many addicts want to give up their addiction but find it too difficult to let go of the temporary satisfaction that giving into their addiction brings.

Unfortunately when someone is under the influence of an addiction it becomes difficult to think logically, which in turn leads them to act irrationally and continue to depend on a substance that they know is doing harm to themselves.

It’s Difficult to Stay the Course

Caffeine addiction is so effective because it tricks the brain into releasing dopamine and serotonin.

Dopamine activates the pleasure or reward centers of the brain. When an activity releases dopamine, the brain makes an association between the action and pleasure, which if abused can lead to addiction.

Serotonin acts as a mood regulator, and is known for inducing good moods and happiness. The body needs tryptophan (an essential amino acid) to produce it. Sources of tryptophan include eggs, salmon and nuts. Because caffeine is known to increase the production of serotonin, natural levels of serotonin will feel less than adequate. 

The fact that these two chemicals are affected by caffeine may explain why when people try giving it up they feel some if not all of the following:

  • Headaches
  • Tiredness
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Irritability
  • Low energy

Your Plan

Many people that are trying to quit caffeine fail, and feel bad about it. Some feel so bad that they flat out wont try to quit again, believing that they are just more naturally addicted to caffeine.

However, everyone has the potential to beat a caffeine addiction, it’s just that they underestimate how difficult it can be.

There is no one thing that can beat an addiction, rather it takes planning and numerous strategies to overcome it, some of which are outlined below.

  • If you are in a work environment, try starting your caffeine abstinence on a weekend.
    That way you can go through some of the withdrawal without the temptation of watching others drinking coffee or energy drinks.
  • Share your struggles with others.
    Join a social media group dedicated to fellow caffeine addicts to get nonjudgmental encouragement and support. They are also often a goldmine of info and resources that can help make the withdrawal easier.
  • Be aware of your tiredness.
    When you are tired it is easier to relapse back into old habits. For me I replaced waking up in the morning and reaching for a coffee, with reaching for water to drink. I also use a tiredness Apple Watch app called V-CAF . It alerts me when I’m most likely to be tired so I can take preventative measures.
  • Seek professional help – councilors and doctors can help with advice and in extreme cases medication.
  • Take it a day at a time.
    Track your progression using a chart or journal so that you can see the progress you are making. The charts and journal can also help you on your weak days to remind you that you’ve done it before and can do it again.

Review

Addictions are very complex. There are no known magic bullets that can slay the beast. However, there are positive steps that you can take to battle and win.

  • Choose to take action and commit, and then plan.
  • If you are starting your abstinence, start on a weekend.
  • Join a social media caffeine addicts support group.
  • Be aware of your tiredness and use a tool like V-CAF.
  • Seek professional help.
  • Keep a journal or chart your progress.

Conclusion

Taking charge of your response to caffeine addiction goes a long way in helping you to overcome it.

Use the techniques in this article as a starting point, but to get the best results make it personal to you.

You can do it 🙂

Categories
Caffeine Side Effects

What Coffee Bean Producers Wont Tell You

What The Top Coffee Bean Producers Don’t Want You To Know

What you don’t know can’t hurt you…

I enjoy drinking coffee. I like the taste and it’s become a valuable tool that I use to help me focus and stay alert.

What I failed to take into consideration was that like all stimulants, there is a danger in the amounts that you consume.

No big deal, I only drink a couple of cups a day! Unfortunately caffeine is finding its way into more of the foods and drinks that we consume daily. 

What annoyed me was the lack of info regarding the cumulative effects of coffee and caffeine consumption; so I decided to write this article to help fill that void.

Fresh Coffee Beans
Photo by Alex@worthyofelegance on Unsplash

The Rising Consumption of Caffeine

Back in June 1 2013, the Washington Post published an article by Brady Dennis that brought attention to the rising amount of food and beverages that contained caffeine.
Slew of caffeinated food products has FDA jittery

Since then there are even more products on the market that contain caffeine.

  • Chocolates
  • Ice Cream and Frozen Yogurts
  • Puddings
  • Breakfast Cereals
  • Headache Pills
  • Various Medications
  • And surprisingly to me Decaffeinated Coffee (although at a reduced level – 12mg compared to 84mg in regular coffee)

I speculate that the increased use of caffeine in products that we ingest is not so much for the health benefits, but rather for its addictive traits (like sugar).

The Effects of Increased Caffeine Consumption on Your Health

There are plenty of articles on the web that suggest that going over 3 to 4 cups of coffee a day can be bad for you over time.

What are not highlighted are the cumulative effects of all the caffeine you can ingest in one day over a period of time.

Thankfully there are many research papers that find both the pros and cons for increasing your caffeine intake.

For example there was a study by G. Webster Ross, MD; Robert D. Abbott, PhD; Helen Petrovitch, MD; et al found that increasing the caffeine consumption of Japanese-American men between the ages of 45 and 68, reduced the risk of developing Parkinson disease.
Association of Coffee and Caffeine Intake With the Risk of Parkinson Disease

And here are some of the cons:

So what can we do to reduce our exposure to caffeine?

Caffeine Control Strategies

Moderation is key. To reduce our exposure to caffeine we first must take the decision to actively watch for how much we consume.

Here are some strategies that I’ve found helpful:

  • Read what’s on the label
    Although the amount of caffeine may not be on the label, if you want to reduce your consumption of caffeine err on the side of caution
  • Use alternatives
    Feeling tired; need to stay awake? Reach for an alternative to coffee (and not decaf)! Water; fruit juices; moving around; using an alarm like V-CAF that warns you when you’re feeling tired; over time these tools can help you naturally increase your energy and reduce your dependency on caffeine products
  • Become more informed about caffeine and your own body.
    By knowing the pros and cons of anything you take control over your own choices rather than defaulting to an industry’s standard for your life!

Review

These days, caffeine intoxication and addiction are real threats. The increased use of caffeine in our foods and drinks masks that we are increasing our tolerance to the stimulating effects of this psychoactive substance.

Use these strategies to help take back control:

  • Find out what you are consuming by reading the label
  • Use non intrusive alternatives such as apps like V-CAF
  • Become more informed 

Take Back Control

I decided to take back control in this area of my life and started a quest to find out more.

I’m still on that quest and hope that you also start your own. Together our collective individual actions can affect change for the better.