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Are You Addicted to Caffeine?

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The other day I was standing in the massive line at Starbucks. The girl in front of me (adorably dressed for the office and typing on her BlackBerry) ordered a triple grande vanilla latte. That’s one big and power-packed coffee. And it got me to thinking—how much caffeine is too much?

It’s so easy to get addicted to the morning cup … or two … or three. But a bunch of coffee in the morning might not actually help you get through your day in fighting form. Consider the following facts about caffeine, along with some tips for weaning yourself off of it. 

Where You’ll Find It
Caffeine comes in all forms, but coffee is undeniably the most popular. However, there’s also caffeine in many teas and sodas, and in the myriad of high-energy drinks that line convenience-store shelves. We’re so addicted to caffeine that companies have even started adding it to food products. Apparently, Americans love anything that promises a boost to our energy level and brainpower.

How Much Should You Consume?
According to the Mayo Clinic, a moderate two to four cups of coffee a day is fine. But more than four cups can start to negatively influence your life on and off the clock.

Why Is It So Addicting?
Coffee’s boost usually occurs 30 to 60 minutes after consumption (though some mornings we swear we feel it right away), and a cup can keep you going for four to six hours. This can easily lead to coffee consumption (big cup in the morning, cappuccino mid-afternoon) that lasts all day. This deadly cycle can be devastating to your workday if you rely only on your caffeine jolts to keep your energy up till 5 p.m. 

Are YOU Addicted?
If you’ve had too much caffeine, you’re likely to notice the following side effects: sleeplessness, nervousness or restlessness, irritability, tummy troubles (coffee is a diuretic), jittery shakes, headaches, and anxiety. The mere fact that too much caffeine can interfere with sleep is reason enough to monitor your use—it’s hard to be productive if you’re not getting enough sleep at night and you’re jumpy and anxious in the middle of the workday.

How Can You Cut Back (Without Causing Your Co-Workers Bodily Harm)?
Don’t even think about quitting caffeine the Monday morning of a grueling workweek. If you decide to cut back, do it gradually. This will help lessen any withdrawal symptoms like headaches or crabbiness. Try switching from regular to decaf or from black tea to herbal. Or try slowly eliminating your afternoon cup by replacing it with sparkling water. And never underestimate the power of a little break. Simply getting up from the computer and taking a walk or two around the block (passing the coffee shop, thank you very much) can do loads for your energy level and brainpower.

Originally published on Nicole Williams


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