You’re not alone if you rely on caffeine to get you up and keep you going. Caffeine is used by millions of people every day to stay alert and boost concentration.
But is your reliance on caffeine helpful or harmful?
And exactly is caffeine? Well, it’s a natural stimulant that gives coffee, tea, many sodas, energy drinks, and candy their energising zip. It works by stimulating the nervous system and making all systems really go.
How much caffeine should you have in a day?
That depends on who you are. Caffeine isn’t safe for everyone. Some people should avoid caffeine, including:
- People taking anti-anxiety medications.
- Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding.
- People with heart disease or high blood pressure.
If you’re otherwise healthy, caffeine is safe in moderation. Here are the boundaries.
- Healthy adults shouldn’t consume more than 400 milligrams (mg) of caffeine per day. That’s equal to about four 8-ounce cups of brewed coffee or 10 cans of cola.
- Keep in mind that the actual caffeine content in beverages varies widely, especially among energy drinks.
- Teens should limit their caffeine intake to less than 100 mg per day (one 8-ounce cup of coffee or about two cans of cola).
You drink more than 4 cups of coffee a day
You may want to cut back if you’re drinking more than 4 cups of caffeinated coffee a day (or the equivalent) and you have side effects such as:
- Frequent urination or inability to control urination
- Fast heartbeat
- Muscle tremors
You get uneasy even if it’s just a little.
Caffeine sensitivity differs from person to person. If you’re sensitive to caffeine’s effects, even tiny doses can cause unpleasant side effects like restlessness and insomnia.
The amount of caffeine you’re used to ingesting may play a role in how you react to it. People who do not consume coffee on a daily basis are more susceptible to its effects.
You don’t get enough sleep.
Even in the afternoon, caffeine might disrupt your sleep. Even little sleep disruptions can wreak havoc on your attentiveness and effectiveness during the day.
Caffeine can create an undesirable loop when used to mask sleep loss. For example, if you have problems remaining awake during the day, you may take caffeinated beverages.
But the caffeine keeps you from falling asleep at night, shortening the length of time you sleep.
Different amounts are tolerated by different people.
Caffeine has a variety of effects on people. Many genes that alter people’s sensitivity to this stimulant have been uncovered.
These genes influence the enzymes in your liver that break down caffeine, as well as caffeine receptors in your brain.
Caffeine’s impact on sleep is also genetically influenced. Some people can drink coffee and promptly fall asleep, while others are kept awake all night.
You may tolerate a lot of caffeine — or very little — depending on your genetic makeup. The majority of folks fall someplace in between.
It’s also crucial to consider your developed tolerance. Coffee drinkers can withstand a lot more than people who only drink it once in a while.
It’s also important to realise that medical conditions can affect sensitivity to caffeine.
How to cut down on caffeine
Looking to cut down? Consider the following to help you reduce your intake:
- Cut back gradually over a two-to-three week period. Rapid withdrawal can leave you with headaches. Try diluting smaller amounts of regular coffee to lower your intake.
- If you’re in a cafe, order a small rather than a large beverage.
- Try decaffeinated tea and coffee – look out for products decaffeinated using the chemical-free Swiss Water method.
- Make one cup at a time instead of a whole pot/cafetière.
- Buy a smaller mug!
- Consider herbal varieties such as chicory.
- Choose caffeine-free soft drinks.
- Drink more water and herbal teas, as well as fruit and vegetable juices. Dilute juices with sparkling water.
- Experiment with herbal teas such as dandelion, lemongrass, peppermint, ginger root, red clover, rosehip, nettle and chamomile.
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