This is the second in a series on sleep, diet, mental clarity and productivity, all of which are intertwined. The purpose of this series is to give you some easy tools to enhance your mental clarity and rid yourself of brain fog. In doing so, you can be more productive, learn quicker, have more energy, sleep better and just get better use out of that amazingly powerful organ we call the brain (which by the way is the most complex structure in the known universe!).
Going Caffeine Free
A few months ago, I decided to see what life would be like without caffeine. I decided to give it up for 30 days. I do not think I was not addicted to caffeine, though I did consume a good amount every day and often did enjoy the temporary mental clarity and energy that came from caffeine. Every day I would have about 3-5 cups of green or black tea and most days I also had a cup of coffee. I’m not a soda drinker.
Why Give Up Caffeine At All?
For me, mostly curiousity. I have read evidence for both positive and negative effects on health and I do not fall on one side or another. In cases like this, where the jury is still out, I figure the best thing is to try things myself to see what works best for me.
I find that the caffeine boost is useful if I want to do menial, low-level thinking tasks, such as the dishes or rearranging a room. However, if I need to sit down and do something which requires more thought and creativity, I find caffeine disrupts this.
I also suspected that caffeine was interfering with my ability to get a deep, restful sleep and, therefore wake up feeling well-rested and clear-minded.
So, What Happens When You Give Up Caffeine?
I bought decaf coffee and decaf tea (which can still have tiny amounts of caffeine, though not enough to be noticable) and made the switch for 30 days. It wasn’t nearly as difficult as I thought it would be. I figured I’d be dying for some caffeine after a couple days and that I’d be like a zombie without it. I did feel a bit tired the first couple days, but that’s to be expected and it really wasn’t a big deal. After a few days, I realized that life was much better without caffeine.
Very quickly I noticed some changes, all of which were positive. In fact, I don’t recall a single negative effect from quitting caffeine. I started to feel clearer minded. I felt more able to take in the big picture of any situation and make more informed decisions. I did not have the jittery burst of energy that comes from caffeine, nor the dragging down of the post-caffeine crash. It wasn’t just my mind that felt more stable, but also my emotions. This was perhaps the greatest change, my emotions were much more composed, tranquill and even. Overall, it was like going from riding a rollercoaster to taking a stroll in the park. Definitely a positive change!
The other major change I noticed was that I slept much better and fell asleep much quicker. This, of course, also meant I needed less sleep and woke feeling better rested in the morning (it also became easier to wake up from power naps). In general, I needed less sleep and had more energy.
After the 30 Days
After the 30 days were up, I experimented a bit and tried having a bit of caffeine (one cup of green tea) very early in the morning. I figured the caffeine would be long out of my system by the time I slept. While I did not feel the caffeine effects much past morning, it still decreased the quality of my sleep and how quickly and easily I fell asleep.
Occasionally, I will have a cup of caffeinated coffee or tea, but in general I much prefer life without caffeine. In fact, yesterday morning I drank a cup of caffeinated coffee in preparation for this article. Last night, I had a very restless sleep.
Want Better Sleep? A Clearer Mind? Emotional Stability? Try 1 Week Without Caffeine
So, I urge you to give it a try. You can get anything decaf these days. You will be excited and energized by the effects. I’m not saying you should give up caffeine forever. But I think you will notice huge positive effects if you minimize it. It’s nice to have more time, more energy, sleep better and to have more emotional stability!
Tip: To help yourself be disciplined and commit to 1 week without caffeine, try this:
At the end of each day, put a big red X through the day on your calendar. This will give you some good visual motivation to ensure that you stick with it for all 7 days.