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 🙂