If you rely on caffeine to wake up or to keep yourself going throughout the day, you’re not alone. Many students consume caffeine to help them keep up with their busy daily schedules. Although caffeine has its perks, it’s important to understand the physical and psychological side effects it may cause.
Health Canada recommends that caffeine intake for healthy adults should be no more than 400mg of caffeine per day, which is roughly equivalent to 4 to 5 cups of coffee per day. This is strictly a guideline for caffeine consumption and sensitivity to caffeine and the side effects associated with is may vary greatly per individual.
“Caffeine can cause insomnia, nervousness and restlessness, stomach irritation, nausea and vomiting, increased heart rate and respiration, and other side effects. Caffeine can make sleep disorders in patients with acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) worse. Larger doses might cause headache, anxiety, agitation, chest pain, and ringing in the ears.”
A Smaller Mug?
Cutting back on caffeine intake can be challenging and it is important to treat yourself with self-compassion. Abrupt decreased consumption of caffeine may cause withdrawal symptoms such as headaches, fatigue, irritability and difficulty focusing on tasks. Fortunately, these symptoms are usually mild and get better after a few days. If it is a goal of yours to reduce you caffeine intake, here are some helpful tips that may help you!
Tracking – By keeping tabs on your caffeine intake from the foods and drinks you consume, you are becoming aware of your habits/behavious. This can help you set goals and track your progress each day.
Gradual – By slowly decreasing your caffeine intake, you may be able to avoid the withdrawal symptoms that may have been present when you tried to end your caffeine intake abruptly. An example could be simply by drinking one less cup of coffee each desired timeframe (daily, weekly, etc).
Decaf – A lot of people enjoy coffee for the taste more than for the perks. If this is you, try going decaf. Other decaffeinated beverages such as energy drinks or sodas often taste the same as their caffeinated counterparts.
Brew time – By shortening the brew time of your coffee or tea, you can decreased the amount of caffeine that is present in that glorious cup of coffee, thus slowly decreasing your caffeine intake.
Go Herbal – there are many decaffeinated herbal teas available that not only decrease your caffeine consumption, but also can help with alertness, focus, sleep, etc. Here are a couple caffeine free herbal teas that may show the associated benefits based on research.
· Rooibos tea – decrease fatigue while improving alertness.
· Peppermint tea – increase alertness.
· Sage tea – improve memory, attention, and learning.
· Ginger tea (good substitute for morning coffee) – improve cognitive function, decrease fatigue and increase energy.
There are many more types of herbal tea that people use as an alternative to caffeine and with a bit of simple research, you may be able to find the perfect alternative for you!
The Last Sip:
The time at which you consume caffeine also plays a role in how it can affect you. For those of you who suffer from insomnia or struggle to fall or stay asleep, consider your caffeine cut-off time to a minimum of six hours before bedtime.
If coffee is part of your daily routine and you’re not wanting to give it up, no need to panic. In most cases, caffeine won’t pose any serious risks to your health. Nevertheless, being mindful of its side effects may guide you into wanting to consider some alternatives to caffeine. caffeine consumption has been normalized in our society and unless you are being attentive and aware, you may not notice the impact caffeine has on you.