Caffeine and Tiredness

Caffeine is often regarded as a ‘pick-me-up’. In the long run, however, it has the opposite effect on the body. Why is caffeine harmful for anyone who is in recovery from chronic tiredness and which drinks specifically contain caffeine?

What effect does caffeine have on the body?

The average American consumes 150 – 225 milligrams of caffeine per day. This is the amount which is in two average-sized cups of coffee.  Most of us think of drinking coffee when we’re tired and need a burst of energy, which caffeine does provide in the short run.

In relatively small doses, caffeine does appear to stimulate mental processes, boost thinking and alertness.  Thoughts and ideas seem to flow more easily and creatively as feelings of tiredness decrease. Typists, for example, work faster and with fewer mistakes after drinking caffeine. And who has not stopped for a cup of coffee while driving a long distance in order to give themselves additional alertness when fatigued?

However, the anti-fatigue effects of caffeine are usually short-lived. The stimulation wears off and more and more caffeine is needed to produce the feelings of energy and clear-headedness. This sets up a vicious cycle and, quite quickly, a person can become caffeine dependent.

Another effect of caffeine is that it interferes with sleep. It seems to disrupt the brainwaves which are needed for relaxation (alpha) making it harder to fall asleep. Long term intake of caffeine should be avoided as there is evidence that caffeine can contribute to or even cause chronic fatigue.

Other reasons why chronically tired people should avoid coffee

As well as caffeine, coffee also contains a substance called theobromine, which interferes with the action of the adrenal glands. As adrenal fatigue is often a cause of chronic tiredness, it makes sense to avoid coffee altogether if possible.

There is one further reason to avoid coffee if you can – the oils released when coffee is roasted may smell wonderful, but they (coupled with grinding) cause rancid oils to be released. Many people are allergic to rancid oils without being aware of it.

The final reason to avoid coffee is that it’s a strong pro-oxidant, and will cause your cells to age faster.

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How much caffeine is in each form of drink?

Although caffeine is almost always associated with coffee in most peoples’ minds, it should be remembered that it is also present in tea. Cola and soda type beverages frequently contain caffeine as well as, in smaller amounts, certain prescription medications. Some food contains caffeine, too, so it is well worth reading food labels and checking.

Caffeine Content in Coffee, Tea and Selected Soft Drinks

 

Beverage

Caffeine Content
(in milligrams)

Coffee (7.5 ounce cup)

 

Drip

115+

Brewed

80-135

Instant

65-80

Decaffeinated

3-4

Tea (5 ounce cup)

 

1 min brew

20

3 min brew

35

Iced (12 ounces)

70

Soft Drinks (can)

 

Jolt

100

Mountain Dew

54

Tab

47

Coca Cola

45

Diet Coke

45

Dr Pepper

40

Pepsi Cola

38

7 UP

  0

 

How to give up coffee and caffeine

The key to giving up caffeine is to wean yourself off it gradually. If you are addicted to it, then you will have a very strong reaction to suddenly being without it. If you taper your daily amount of coffee slowly, then it will be a lot less difficult. Your craving will gradually diminish.

However, despite all the evidence to the contrary, you may decide that you want to drink the occasional cup of coffee. Here are some things you should bear in mind to mitigate the negative effects of caffeine:

  1. Never drink coffee by itself, always drink it with food.
  2. Buy the freshest, best quality coffee available. Always drink pure coffee, preferably organically grown, without additives.
  3. Drink coffee with cream (not artificial creamer) as the oils in cream minimize the less favorable effects of caffeine.
  4. Do not drink coffee after about 4 pm as this will interfere with your sleep.
  5. Take additional supplements: magnesium, calcium, vitamins B and C as well as an antioxidant which will help de-toxify the pathways which caffeine impairs.
  6. Consider taking just two sips and enjoying aroma, rather than finishing the entire cup.
  7. Take homeopathic chamomile (X 12potency) to help counteract the caffeine.
  8. Consider alternatives, such as green tea.

Finally remember that all ‘quick-fixes’ (and caffeine is definitely one of these) have to be paid for and are usually more costly that the original problem. The issue of tiredness can be solved by taking adequate rest, having the right nutrition and reducing stress. All of these actions are more effective in the long term (and will build up your health far more effectively) than taking caffeine.