A week without coffee…

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After coaching many, many people to try and adopt slightly healthier lifestyles over the last couple of years, I decided to take some of my own advice. Late last week, I stopped drinking coffee and moved over to either green or black tea.

The results were immediate: headaches.

But I persevered. After last weekend, I was falling asleep earlier in the evening but I was also waking up naturally, earlier and before my alarm went off. Each morning last week, I needed to be up early and compos mentis for either a flight or a client meeting. This included two 7am client breakfasts.

One cup of black tea was all it took to get me going – quite different from my usual two espressos, followed by a drip feed of strong coffee throughout the day. I also stopped having massive post-lunch ‘slumps’ which I’d usually address with more coffee.

I was beginning to get into a healthier sleep cycle – which felt amazing.

I also managed to trip myself up twice: On Thursday night, after dinner with clients, I asked for a decaf coffee at the hotel I was staying in. I enjoyed the small cup and pootled off to bed after the usual good byes. One hour later, I was still lying awake, cursing either a) my increased sensitivity to the tiny amounts of caffeine remaining in decaf or b) the hotel’s inability to serve decaf when requested.

I got about 4 hours sleep that night and felt like death the following morning at my 7am breakfast with a client. But, I avoided a coffee to keep me going and instead had some black tea. That, along with some delicious Cornwall sunshine, kept me going through a challenging workshop I was delivering. Actually, all the way through to my flight home to London that night.

The second trip-up was yesterday morning. Another early start, to meet a colleague before we delivered a workshop in London. I was ragged with tiredness and insisted we stop at a favourite Italian coffee shop for a cup of warm, black energy. It was delicious and perked me right up.

However, less than an hour later, I was offered another coffee by the client we were working for and, just as I was about to say ‘yes’, I notice the massive thumping in my chest. This strong Americano was really doing something to my system! I opted for green tea instead.

So a week without coffee (I know there’s caffeine in tea, so it wasn’t exactly caffeine-free week) left me a lot more sensitive to the impact of large amounts of caffeine. I could literally feel its impact. Cutting back on coffee helped with sleep and I proved to myself that I didn’t need coffee to open my eyes in the morning – or to get through a busy day.

So will I be giving up on coffee completely?

Short answer: no.

Long answer: I’ll be drinking a hell of a lot less. I love the taste of coffee, not just it’s impact on my brain, but I’ll be reserving it for weekends and special occasions only. It’s black tea (with almond milk – delicious) or green tea instead from now on. Sleep is really important to ward off my epilepsy, so it’s a small sacrifice to make to be healthy.

Now that I’ve done that, I’ll have to consider what other coaching advice I’ve been doling out that I could usefully implement in my own life. All the time, reminding myself what I say to clients all the time:

Change is hard – but helpful 🙂

6 comments

  1. I remember back at the start of the year when you started drinking a lot of green tea…

    I had Starbucks after work and 2 caffeine-based ‘energy’ drinks (basically bionic diet soda) at 15h. Slept like a baby last night, which is rare for me; such as this further proves my self-diagnosed ADHD.

    That said, I don’t NORMALLY do that much caffeine in the PM. Of course I have coffee AM and then switch to at least 3C of tea throughout the work day. If I don’t drink it (sometimes I stop), I don’t get headaches but it’s like I’m wrapped in dense fog–quite enjoyable but I’m good for shite.

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    1. Yup, I’ve been slowly building the green tea habit. I’ve developed quite a taste for it, but quickly realised that not all green teas are the same!

      Had one yesterday that had been “infused” (like you infuse your toilet with bleach) with lemon. Tasted like something you take when you have a head cold.

      I also *really* like the activity of making tea by the pot. It’s just very relaxing – and lovely to refill your cup from a teapot that has been ‘stewing’ for some time.

      Obviously, it’s made even better by the addition of scones and cream. And jam.

      Hmmmm…..scones.

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    2. Also, “energy drinks” turn me into a lunatic. Mood swings, restless leg syndrome and lots of snappy bad tempered interactions with those around me.

      They need to be kept out of my reach.

      (Which isn’t that hard, in fairness…)

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      1. I don’t drink them usually because they all taste so bad!!

        The ones I take usually are high in B vitamins (like a complex) and then have about 75mg of caffeine, which is close to a cup of coffee per serving.

        I stick to the Monster brand (mostly because they don’t make me nauseated). I’ve tried a couple others that DID make me nauseated–I think it’s more about the crap in them than the caffeine but not sure.

        At any rate, I’d rather have tea or coffee!

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