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The library of essays of Proakatemia

Caffeine, life and studying



Kirjoittanut: Siri Saarilahti - tiimistä Sointu.

Esseen tyyppi: Yksilöessee / 2 esseepistettä.
Esseen arvioitu lukuaika on 6 minuuttia.

Caffeine, life and studying

Introduction

We all know the feeling when we smell the freshly cooked coffee and know it´s soon our own time with a cup of good coffee. In Finland, we have grown up with coffee: as kids at grandparents, there was the place for the afternoon coffee and bun. The moment when everyone sits around the table and shares the common passion, was the interest then the coffee, tea or the bun, the moment was shared with the people we loved. Life moves on, people and situations change but coffee stays. Coffee is there for us when we celebrate our achievements, birthdays and baptisms and coffee is there when we bury our loved ones. Coffee is every time a good gift. There is always a place for a coffee. People might even have their own favorite coffee cup and if that breaks, it can cause sadness.
These things are part of our culture, life and our growing up. I remember when I was fifteen, we decided with my friend that now we must start drinking coffee because we thought it looked and sounded cool and we were big enough to be the ones in the afternoon coffee who will be there for the coffee and not for the bun. I did a human experiment on me and wanted to know more of the effects of the caffeine and how this substance can help us or make our life harder.

Good and Bad effects of caffeine

The half-life of caffeine is average 3.7 hours. Metabolic speed, nicotine usage, pregnancy, hormones and individual sensitivity can vary on how caffeine affects on every individual.

1.Alertness
Caffeine is a stimulant which affects on our central nervous system and when consumed it reduces fatigue and rises our alertness. This can be useful when we need to be working during the evening or night.

2.Improved concentration
Reasonable amount of caffeine, around 1-3 cups per day (100-300mg of caffeine) can increase our cognitive functions. While studying, caffeine helps us to concentrate, remember things and pay attention.

3.Increased heart rate
Headline explains itself. Increased heart rate can cause for example dizziness, sweating, nausea and anxiety. Increased heart rate can also cause movements in blood pressure.

4.Diuretic effect
This means that caffeine consumption can dry the body. Caffeine boosts our body´s liquids to move so we might need to use bathroom more often when we have drank coffee. If we are thirsty, coffee is not the drink. Remember also  to drink water. Digestive issues are possible when ingesting caffeine.

5.Sleep deprivation
Coffee can be used to postpone sleep when needed. Caffeine may create the circle where it is ingested while suffering from fatigue -> Too much or too late caffeine consumption affects badly on the good sleep quality -> More fatigue -> More caffeine etc.
To maintain a good sleep quality, it means the need to avoid substances which stimulate mind and/or body. Caffeine can cause even insomnia.

6.Dependence and withdrawal
Regular consumption can lead to dependence on some individuals, of course not everyone. Changes in behaviour are possible as a part of caffeine withdrawal. Symptoms usually start 12-24 hours
after the last caffeine consumption. Common symptoms are headaches, fatigue, mood changes, problems in concentration.

7.Performance enhancement
Caffeine has a reputation to be a performance stimulant. Caffeine can boost concentration, endurance and energy. By increasing the neurotransmitters, like dopamine and serotonin, caffeine can improve mood.

My own caffeine break

On January I realized that caffeine had hooked me. From the moment 19 years ago when I wanted to start drinking coffee, life had brought me to a different kind of moment where I wanted to get rid of coffee. I could not start my day without my cup of coffee anymore, and I was visibly grumpy and sometimes even incapacitated before my first cup. I also had suffered from different levels of anxiety and increased heart rate my whole life, I get nervous and stressed easily and I know caffeine might boost these characteristics on some people.

On January 23rd I decided that now I´ve gotten enough. I didn’t want any beverage to control my emotions right away in the morning, so I skipped my morning coffee. I regretted making the choice in few hours, but I still wanted to stay determined.

Caffeine break notes

Day 1
0 cups of coffee.
A horrible migraine-like headache on the other side of the head and the painkillers didn’t help at all. Brain fog was massive, it felt like I was not present and heard everyone´s voice from the distance. At our Paja I was unable to concentrate. I was feeling confused and even the anxiety kicked in. Am I even getting the flu?
Later in the evening I went to exercise, and it helped a bit.
Positive sides were that I felt more relaxed in my body, even my mind was blurry. No fast heartbeat.

Day 2
0,5 cups of coffee.
I woke up with the same headache and decided that maybe the straight up quitting was not the best option for me, so I drank a half cup (2 dl) of coffee and see if it helps. Half cup was obviously not enough since headache and brain fog continued. My anxiety got worse, and I questioned my choices for a while. I needed to ask myself why I am doing this and am I sure. Is it so dangerous to consume some caffeine. In the afternoon I got so tired that I needed to take a long nap which I usually don’t do. I woke up from the nap still tired.
When I got into bed in the evening, I fell asleep very fast and that is also sometimes hard for me.

Day 3
0,5 cups of coffee.
Headache is almost gone, only the feeling that head had been hurt is left. I had slept nine hours and still woke up very tired.

Day 4
0 cups of caffeine, but 2 cups of caffeine-free coffee.
I found caffeine free coffee from our next to shop and I had never tried it before. It worked and I got the same feeling of it than coffee with caffeine. I seem still need the coffee, even though I could get rid of caffeine.
My body feels peaceful, heavy and tired. I need a nap again. The feeling of the headache is still present and few kicks of anxiety is noticeable in my body and brain.

Day 5
0 cups of caffeine, but 2 cups of caffeine-free coffee.
Body feels relaxed and peaceful, but still also tired and heavy. Not functioning perfectly. Brain fog is gone. I slept super deeply.

Two weeks without caffeine
Heart rate had lowered, and it eases my anxiety and restlessness. I have slept more deeply during these weeks, and I have noticed that I wake up way faster in the morning than I used to. I´m like ready to start the day when I get out of bed and that feeling is amazing. The nap I still sometimes need to take but I think that it´s good for me, it means that I am more relaxed and not in an alerted mode all the time.

Conclusion of the human experiment

I have been almost totally without caffeine for two months. I haven´t drank coffee with caffeine at all or any energy drinks. Just a few cups of green tea and there is a very small amount of caffeine in it. It had helped me to focus more and relax. I sleep way better and it is easier for me to fall asleep in the evenings, I can take naps and not just lay in bed restless. I feel like the stress levels had gone down and it´s easier for me to just be present, breath and listen. Anxiety was gone after a few days of the caffeine break. I know it is a lifelong partner for me probably, but at least now it seems to be gone, thanks to my experiment. I still think I am somehow addicted to coffee, not even exactly to caffeine. This break helped me with my studies, because it´s easier for me to get up from the bed in the mornings and I am fully functioning faster. Waking up doesn´t take as long time as before.
I still like to have my morning coffee (from the caffeine-free) and afternoon coffee moments, but now I can even have an evening coffee if I want. So, for me this worked out very well, and I have not planned to end the break very soon. I can highly recommend trying this out if you have similar kind of problems what I have experienced. I want to highlight, that this experiment worked on myself, and I know people have different tolerances and caffeine affects on every person individually. And I still love coffee.

Sources

Jan Snel, Monicque M. Lorist, 2011, Effects of caffeine on sleep and cognition https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/B9780444538178000062

A. Smith, 2002, Effects of caffeine on human behaviour
https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0278691502000960

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