A previous boss of mine once proudly stated that he drank 10 cups of coffee every single day.
Completely baffled, yet also intrigued by that statement, I couldn’t help but wonder how he might feel.
Is his sleep restful? Does he feel productive and healthy? Is drinking this amount dangerous?
That’s why I decided recently to voluntarily get addicted to caffeine – I drank 70 cups of coffee in 7 days. Here’s how the caffeine addiction unexpectedly disrupted my health, well-being and productivity.
Day 1: How to deal with caffeine intoxication
The most cups that I ever drank in my life regularly was about 4 cups of coffee a day, which means I didn’t know how my body would react to the caffeine intake in the first place – this was scary, to be honest.
What gave me some security was ranking under-average on the HEXACO personality-test on emotionality (regarding traits such as fearfulness, anxiety and sensitivity). As caffeine has been shown to increase the effect of those traits. If you rate high on the personality test on emotionality, you might feel the effects of the caffeine intake quite strongly.
As I decided to start this experiment late in the day on a whim after immense amount of procrastination, I immediately needed to face two challenges:
- Not destroying my sleep quality
- Dealing with caffeine intoxication
The effects of caffeine intoxication were clear after drinking 6 cups of coffee and dealing with stomach problems, I wondered if this challenge can actually be fatal. It happily turned out that the lethal dose of caffeine is considered to be around 10 grams.
This means that I needed to drink about 130 coffees to potentially end myself. I felt safe.
What I didn’t know is that the effects of caffeine intoxication can start at blood-levels of about 250mg. Even if I considered the half-life of caffeine, which turns out to be approximately 6 hours, I already passed that benchmark.
While I dealt with gastrointestinal problems from the get-go, at that point I also dealt with rambling flow of thoughts and speech, restlessness, severe sweating bursts and later on insomnia.
At that time, I worked for my eCornell certification in Plant Based Nutrition and various other projects. I was busy but I wasn’t being productive. I had to postpone nearly all of the endeavours.
How to deal with the acute, negative effects
As caffeine has been shown to increase your cortisol levels, it’s important to implement stress relieving tactics in your day. I ended the first day with a long-walk, while listening to soothening piano music.
I also played a calming instrument at the end of the day, wore blue-light blocking glasses and shut down my mobile phone atleast 2 hours before going to sleep. Regarding diet I ate 3 kiwis and drank a chamomile tea, which are linked to melatonin production and decreased cortisol levels.
These are all stress-relieving tactics that have worked for me in the past. We all should have at least 3 tactics on your hand that we can implement to relieve stress in our daily life. The more often we use them, the more effective they become, as our brain starts to associate these tactics with stress relief.
Day 2: How it made me nearly depressive
I like to go to sleep and wake up early. Yet the 10 cups of coffee completely disrupted my natural sleep cycle.
After planning to wake up at 5am, I ultimately woke up at 8am after 7 hours of sleep.
I woke up with slight nausea, probably from the caffeine intoxication of yesterday. At that point, I also realized that the second day would be the hardest day of the challenge. Considering the half-life of 6 hours, I still got about 200mg of caffeine in my blood at that time.
While one cup of coffee used to pump me up quite good in the past, I now couldn’t feel a difference at all in energy levels. I have noted energy increases at 3 cups of coffee. Which funnily enough put me back into the caffeine intoxication blood-levels.
While I planned to exercise quite early in the morning, I only found the willpower at 3pm on day 2. But going for this jogging session might be the best decision that I ever did on this challenge. Here’s why:
How I cracked the code to the challenge
I’m still not sure if it was the increased blood flow to the brain or the unbearing circumstances of the challenge that made me come up with the solution to the caffeine problem.
I decided to deal with the three most productivity-reducing challenges on the experiment:
- Random, excessive sweating
- Gastrointestinal issues
- Impaired thinking and increased anxiety
I dealt with the random, excessive sweating while adding ice to my coffee and drinking a cold smoothie at the same time. While cold beverages are regulating your body temperature, they also decrease the blood flow to your digestive system. They therefore might also slow or hinder the absorption of the caffeine.
The gastrointestinal issues have been treated with increased fiber intake. I aimed to eat atleast 50grams of fiber every single day. This is 150% of the RDA.
The impaired thinking and increased anxiety were obliterated by daily exercise or random naps. I actually felt like I took control of the experiment.
Yet I was proved wrong in the following days. Here came day 3.
Day 3: Awake for 23 hours
The most amazing part of this caffeine challenge was the tolerance build up.
The third day I woke up at 4:30 in the morning while having my last 3 coffees less than 9 hours ago.
Falling asleep was easy. This was the first day I woke up energized and motivated during the challenge. I gulped down 3 cups of coffees and went for a workout.
The gastrointestinal issues should have been sorted out because this was my first day that my stool was on…
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