As expected, caffeine was the culprit

Last week, I blogged about experiencing lethargy on the weekends, suspecting that caffeine was the culprit. It turns out I was right. Since then, I’ve limited myself to one caffeinated beverage per day, no later than 13:00, and I haven’t been experiencing any of the problems that I reported then.

It’s funny that it took me so long in life to consciously decide to limit my caffeine intake, though perhaps not surprising. My major in university was Computer Science, and as you know, caffeine is the lifeblood of geeks. On days when I had to get some serious programming done, drinking two energy drinks and soda was not uncommon. Yet my intake back then was still pretty irregular; I never went for ten days straight, drinking a lot each day, then ceasing intake abruptly. Thus I never really experienced the withdrawals.

On the other hand, in hindsight, I’m very sure that I experienced a disruption of my sleep cycle as a result of all of that caffeine intake. Thanks to Wikipedia, I know that the half-life of caffeine in a healthy person’s bloodstream is six hours. For example, drink four cans of caffeinated soda at noon and you still have a whole can’s worth of caffeine in your bloodstream at midnight — more than enough to disrupt your ability to get to sleep. I can definitely remember nights in which I drank an energy drink at around 18:00 and was unable to get to bed until the wee hours of the morning.

The lucky thing about caffeine is that it isn’t nearly addictive as most other drugs (such as alcohol, nicotine, or FSM forbid, crack cocaine). It’s very easy to break a caffeine addiction. Just go cold turkey starting around Friday after noon. You will have a miserable, lethargic weekend, but by Monday, you will mostly be back to normal. If only it were so easy for smokers or alcoholics. I suppose this is why the FDA tolerates caffeine in our sodas and coffee but not, say, nicotine.

I just hope I don’t have to turn in my nerd card now that I don’t have a three sigma caffeine intake.

5 Responses to “As expected, caffeine was the culprit”

  1. Will (Green) Says:

    “three sigma caffeine intake”?
    I think you’re allowed to keep your nerd card, though.

  2. Kelly Martin Says:

    I went off caffeine in 2004, and back on it in 2006. While I was off caffeine, I slept more soundly, but had overall less energy and far less ability to focus. Most notably, it impacted my ability to code.

  3. Cyde Weys Says:

    Kelly: Oh geez, I hope that doesn’t happen to me. I don’t need less energy or less ability to focus. Heh, maybe I’ll have to switch over to Ritalin or something. I have been exercising for an hour each day though, and that seems to help a lot with energy.

  4. Andrew S Says:

    Interesting comments on the caffeine intake issues. Oddly enough I’ve never had much of an issue with caffeine affecting my ability to sleep so I guess it affects people in different amounts. Sometimes drinking a cup of coffee makes me tired. However, I do think it is important to not consume vast amounts of caffeine day in and day out. The average body becomes used to caffeine within about 48 hours (from memory) after which you generally need more to get the same amount of affect.

    I would also add that if you need a caffeine boost, stay away from Coke and other sugar loaded energy drinks. In these cases it is not the caffeine you are craving but the sugar kick instead. It is for this reason I have banned myself from consuming Coke altogether, as well as knocking the consumption of most other soft drinks on the head too. Getting rid of the sugar kicks has helped me cruise through the day with a more consistent level of focus, with a coffee every now and then when I sit down to tackle something important.

    I did read somewhere a nifty trick with getting the most out of a coffee. Drink a cup of coffee then take a nap for 15 mins. When you wake up you will be ready with a big power kick. I haven’t tried it myself as I don’t have 15 minutes spare during the day in which I could safely sleep but it might be worth a go to those who can.

  5. Cyde Weys Says:

    Yeah, I’ve ruled out sugar sodas, but for calorie reasons rather than sugar rush reasons. I can see why bother are worrisome though.

    As for the nap thing, that sounds nifty, but it wouldn’t work for me. I can’t get to sleep unless I’m actually tired, and when I’m actually tired, I have a good deal of trouble sleeping for less than a minimum of a few hours.