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.