Caffeine is a drug. Coffee contains caffeine, and about 90% of Americans drink coffee, many of them in amounts that pour more than 300 milligrams of caffeine into their systems every day. Caffeine is a mild stimulant. It makes you more alert by fending off sleep. It's the most widely used drug in the world, and in contained in many foods and also in numerous stay awake medications like No Doz.
Never forget, however, that caffeine is a drug.
It has, on occasion, even been considered a drug of abuse. Although it can keep you awake and make you feel more alert, it does not necessarily improve your performance. Like other drugs, including alcohol, you may think you're doing great at a task, but a later check could reveal errors in thinking. These errors are caused by the disorientation and irritable headaches of something called coffee nerves.
Since coffee is a stimulant, and since it tends to keep you awake, it should be avoided for several hours before bedtime. A strong cup of coffee, consumed an hour before you go to bed can cause restlessness and a decreased quality of sleep. In other words, coffee before going to bed causes or aggravates insomnia.
Caffeine also causes or aggravates other health problems, like irregular heartbeats, ulcers and heartburn. It may even raise cholesterol levels. Because caffeine is a drug, and because it is addictive, it can cause withdrawal symptoms when you try to quit. Reduce your intake gradually or you will suffer from headaches and restlessness.
Other tips for kicking the caffeine habit:
- Keep track of how much caffeine you consume each day. A list of foods and beverages that contain caffeine appears at the end of this article. Also, check the contents of any medication you take, including over-the-counter products.
- Gradually reduce your intake of coffee. If you start to get withdrawal symptoms, stay at that level until they disappear.
- Exercise in place of coffee. It gets your blood running, and increases energy. It also gets your mind off your usual cup of coffee.
- Drink herbal teas, coffee substitutes and decaffeinated beverages.
- If you are a smoker, try to cut back. Coffee and smoking are often linked together in the mind.
- Whenever you find yourself craving a cup of coffee, do something else. Take up a distracting hobby.
- Suck on a mint. This often relieves the craving for coffee.
Don't forget that coffee is not the only culprit. Don't let your craving for caffeine lead you to over indulge in some other caffeine-laden beverage or food. These products all contain caffeine in varying amounts:
- Cola type soft drinks
- Many medications, like No Doz and Excedrin.
Kick the caffeine habit and benefit with a better sleep.
Published On: November 14, 2008