Curiosity – Caffeine Is Bad

I went cold turkey from caffeine for a little over a month but I now have fallen back into using it for almost a month. I consider this a failure and an illustative example of lacking control over my life.

The only withdrawal I had was a minor headache for one day after stopping. I actually felt better in some ways for much of the month. My energy levels weren’t higher but they were more steady throughout the day. I think I slept a bit better too.

My relapse was initiated with a cup of coffee to cope minor sleep deprivation (~4 hours sleep that night) and trying to get going that morning. The sleep deprivation was also a result of lack of behavioral control. I stayed up late the night before doing something (forget what…but it was probably reading a book, something online, or watching videos). After the initial relatps, I had a cup of coffee every few days to every other day for a boost in the morning.

Now, I have been back at 4-7 cups of coffee a week for the last two weeks or so. I will try to taper off this time. I’m going to try to avoid caffeine on my more relaxed days or when I got a great night’s sleep. I will also try to sleep better (though I usually do get 8 hours). When I really want caffeine, I’m thinking that I will try to have only smaller servings, like a half-cup or less. I plan to look into Alan Carr’s work and try some strategies from that as well.

At this point, people should beware because I’m caffeinated and not in control of my consumption.

Interesting. For me caffeine has never been about morning energy, so I haven’t experienced the particular problem / temptation that you did.

It’s been many years since I had any voluntary sleep deprivation (staying up later than 8 hours before I need to wake up, by choice). What I do have is things that happen to wake me up or keep me awake and result in sleep deprivation, like:

  • Noise outside or inside my house (storms, police helicopter flying around, freezer alarm if the door was left open, smoke detector battery or EOL chirps, power outage causing UPS to beep)
  • Physical things like being ill, sore, allergic, hot, or needing to shit in the middle of the night
  • Waking early and not being able to go back to sleep

Those are the kind of things that, when I was on intentional morning caffeine, would result in noticably less lost sleep (I’d go back to sleep faster / wouldn’t lie in bed awake until morning).

When these things happen sometimes I try to sleep more in the morning by getting up latter than planned or going back to bed. That approximately never works (caffeine or not). I find that I basically can’t sleep in the morning between my normal wakeup time & lunch.

I also find that unless the deprivation was particularly extreme (like I got 3 hours or less of sleep the whole night) I don’t notice even feeling tired - again, caffeine or not. Like, pretty much whatever happened the night before and whether I drank caffeine or not I’m good till at least lunch. After lunch is when I feel tired if I’m sleep deprived & if circumstances allow I can definitely take afternoon naps. But when circumstances don’t allow for an afternoon nap I am not tempted to use caffeine to solve the tiredness problem because I know it’d just keep me up later that night and cause schedule rolling. So I just tough it out until evening and maybe go to bed a little earlier than usual.

There are lots of people who seem to be not like me in regard to morning energy, probably even the majority though I haven’t done any kind of count or study. I don’t know what causes the difference.

There hasn’t been any significant change in my caffeine intake since my last progress update. Still haven’t had any intentional caffeine or any large incidental sources. Some days I think I have literally zero / can’t identify anything that has any caffeine. 3 days in the last month I had a single cup of decaf tea. About half the days I had some kind of chocolate, usually as a component of ice cream. As far as I know that’s it. Still not sleeping as well at night as I did while on intentional caffeine, but it’s not a significant problem in my current circumstances.

Came across this today: How Many Cups of Coffee You Should Drink Per Day, According to 'Science'

How Many Cups of Coffee You Should Drink Per Day, According to ‘Science’

Two to three cups for longevity, maybe

This comes from a study of older people. I think (but only from anecdotes and vague recollection of some studies) that longevity is highly correlated with working vs. being retired. I’d also guess that coffee drinking is highly correlated with working vs. being retired. My tentative guess would be that working instead of being retired is a good indication you’ll live longer and also that you’ll drink coffee, rather than coffee drinking causing you to live longer.

To be fair, they do mention a couple times in the article that causality has not been established. But my guess is the author and most readers think correlation is almost as good / the best we currently have so OK to basically act as if causation is established.

They highlight a couple of other options:

Three to four cups for other health outcomes

No “maybe” on this one, even though it’s more extreme than the first and there’s more problems discussed in the details.

Four cups or less, to be safe

Zero is not discussed much as an option to seriously consider. It’s only given lip service earlier in the article if you’re not already a coffee drinker:

The author of that analysis said that people should not start drinking coffee because of these results, but that if you already drink coffee, it “can be part of a healthy diet.”