Caffeine Can Be Counterproductive

Too many people use caffeine as a substitute for lack of sleep. Then soon the addictive nature of caffeine’s use takes over. Also, some people are far more sensitive and susceptible to its effects. My spouse is one such; it’s been a standing joke in our family about having to de-caffeinate him a couple times a year. He works all hours, pushes himself to do too much all too often, which can of course create challenges with sleep and tiredness.I’ve been there, too!

The typical pattern is this: he gets off caffeine, his short temper disappears, he sleeps better, feels much less stressed, ceases to crave junk, etc. Then: some months pass… Grouchy is waking up, Cranky is commenting, and I have the ah-ha moment–he is drinking caffeinated coffee again.

The problem is insidious in our culture, in part because coffee is on offer everywhere, so the I’ll-just-have-one-cup rationalization-aka-denial sets in. Finally, the self-perpetuating behavior resumes. My husband knows he always feels better off the caffeine, but our culture promotes its use in a dozen ways. And, humans are past masters of rationalization! So, my take is, if you can’t have just one cup and stop there, it’s better to leave it alone.

For those of us with sugaraholic tendencies, caffeine, even in plain black coffee, is known to raise blood glucose and insulin, so acts as a trigger for cravings. Tea seems to have much less of an effect, and generally is far better for you. Also, even decaffeinated coffee varies a lot, anything from 3mg to over a 100mgs per cup; so, even decaf can have enough caffeine to create problems especially for sleep. E.g., Starbucks and McDonald’s decaf coffee has among the highest caffeine in their decaf coffee, so it pays to do some research; here’s a place to start: http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/caffeine/AN01211).

If we are tired, we crave carbohydrates; that’s the brain’s message to our prehistorically evolved brain on how to quickly get energy. In raw nature, this was a good thing, but in our time it means ready access to more sugar in one meal than a cave-person had in a whole month of summer feasting. The self-perpetuating nature of the sugars, caffeine, alcohol, drugs is simple, but the good news is we can break those habits, and eventually be free of the craving monster.

Yours in freedom from addictive behaviors,

Nan aka Sugarbaby

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