Caffeine is one of those drugs that sparks a lot of controversy. Is it beneficial? Harmful? What’s up with caffeine? The reviews are mixed, so I experimented with my body.
I went off caffeine for about 18 months a few years ago. I’m an active person who pushes the clock as much as possible, which is a nice way of saying I don’t tend to get enough sleep. (How much sleep is enough? Another controversial questions. For me, 6.5 to 7.5 hours seems to be optimal.)
I went off caffeine primarily because I hate to be addicted to anything, and, dammit, if I didn’t get my morning coffee, I’d get that withdrawal headache around 1:00 or so. Bump that. So I quit.
Fine, but here’s the problem. When I’d tell people I was off caffeine, they’d invariably ask, “Do you feel better?” and I would invariably answer, “No.” And it was true. I did not feel better. I felt run down. Sure, you can say, “Well, you should just have gotten more sleep.” Do ya think? Easier said than done.
About 16 months into this experiment I read The Caffeine Advantage. It’s an interesting book about the benefits of caffeine. I know, I know, don’t believe everything you read. But the fact was that I didn’t feel better without caffeine, so I was poised to jump off the wagon. (Does that phrase remind you of this Seinfeld episode?)
I went back to using caffeine a couple months later, but his time, instead of coffee, I started popping a 100mg caffeine pill in the morning. Saved time and money, plus it’s hot in New Mexico, where I lived at the time, and a pot of coffee is not necessarily a pleasant way to start the day.
I’ll stem your imagination’s wandering right now and let you know that I did not slip into a downward spiral of caffeine addiction that threatened my very soul. I was very controlled with the pills, but I soon discovered that I missed the taste of a good cup of coffee.
So I am back on caffeine, enjoying a cup of coffee (currently making Americanos with my Breville espresso maker) when I think I need it. I also dig the flavor of a sugar-free Red Bull from time to time. And you know what? Yeah, I feel better.