Caffeine Cut-Off

Over the past year or so I’ve noticed that my sleep patterns had become much more erratic.  Whereas I once slept soundly and peacefully from bedtime until morning, I began waking up during the night and — most disturbingly — finding myself unable to fall back asleep readily, even though I still felt physically tired and sleep-ready.  At the first instant of wakefulness, my mind seemed to immediately shift into overdrive and begin churning through pending issues rather than remaining in a sleep-receptive mode.

cofffecupI attributed this to age, and a heavy workload, and lots of travel that was affecting my circadian rhythms, and other extraneous factors.  But then I started wondering whether there were things I was doing that might be influencing my sleep patterns, too, and whether I could in fact take steps to avoid the unsatisfying crappy sleep nights.  I’d known for some time that too much coffee consumption during the day left me feeling jittery, and that the price of having a rich cup of coffee after dinner was staying up much later than normal.  Extrapolating from that evidence, I decided to practice a little self-science, and experiment with my caffeine intake to see whether establishing an earlier coffee cut-off would help me to get a more restful night’s sleep.

It wasn’t easy, because I’ve long enjoyed a cup of coffee after lunch and another one around 3 p.m., to keep me sharp during the afternoon.  Old habits die hard — but sometimes you’ve got to drive a stake through them, anyway.  So I started to consciously stop drinking coffee at about 2 p.m., and start drinking water at that point instead.   I missed the mid-afternoon steaming cup of joe, but that simple change had an immediate, positive impact on the soundness of my sleep, and particularly on my ability to fall back asleep, which was the problem that was bothering me the most.  Now I’ve backed off the deadline even farther, to 1 p.m., just to be on the safe side.

I definitely like my coffee, and I can’t imagine doing without my morning intake, but if the choice is between coffee and good sleep, coffee’s going to lose 10 times out of 10.

The Dark Roast Effect

They’ve introduced a new coffee flavor packet at the office.  Before, we had Italian Roast and Donut Shop.  Now we’ve got Donut Shop Dark, too.

pflav-23116880t500x500I really like the Donut Shop Dark.  The packet says it’s “dark and intense,” and I agree with that evaluation.  It’s got a really rich, almost chocolatey flavor.  It would definitely go well with a chocolate-covered donut, like the one that’s on the packet.  And when you guzzle a cup first thing in the morning, it really gives your day a nice little kick-start jolt.

But here’s the issue:  at the end of the work day, I feel really . . . caffeinated.

If you do a Google search about whether dark roast coffee has more caffeine, you are told that there is no correlation and that the notion that dark-roasted coffee has more caffeine is a myth.  I can’t dispute that, because I’m no expert.  All I know is that dark-roasted coffee seems to have more of an impact on me.  Whether that’s because of some negligible caffeine difference, or because my brain is reacting to my (erroneous) understanding that I’m getting more caffeine . . . . or because I’m just drinking more coffee because I like the taste of this new blend, who knows?

Feeling more caffeinated at the end of the day isn’t necessarily a bad thing.  Among other things, it makes it easier to rationalize having a glass of wine to celebrate the arrival at home after a long day’s work.