Saturday, February 20, 2010

A Caffeine "Fast"

I raised the question about two years ago in "Thoughts On Caffeine" Why do we feel that years of overconsumption of caffeine will have zero consequences physically, mentally, or emotionally? As people like to point out to me, it's pretty hard to kill yourself with caffeine, but is that any kind of argument that it is harmless?

I've managed to stay away from caffeine for over a month now. No, it's not the first time I've "quit" caffeine, but I'm feeling pretty comfortable with my "fast" this time around. For the first two weeks, I had bouts of "thirst". Although I've never been a big liquor drinker, I imagine my experience to be something akin to (but probably much less severe than) the feeling of thirst that a recovering alcoholic might have.

The thirst has subsided and I've noticed several interesting things. Now, when I wake up in the morning, I am groggier because I sleep deeper even if I don't sleep as much. It takes me longer to get going but once I do, my body can sustain efforts longer. My highs are not as high and my lows are not as low. I am less tense during the day. I am feeling fatigue more, which is actually a good thing because it means I also notice "biofeedback" more acutely. I can actually feel what my body is trying to tell me about training effect and fatigue accumulation.


Jon Oplotnik said...

your assessment of "feeling" fatigue is dead on. caffeine has a way of masking how you feel at the times you need to feel it the most, i.e. training fatigue.

Anonymous said...

Dead on, Boris. I stopped drinking lots of caffeine several years ago and it contributed to a more stable power output. Lower highs, higher lows, longer time in the morning to "turn on" (1h at least) but stable function once I'm awake (I do need frequent short breaks and they recharge me very well).

Another great thing about not drinking caffeine often is that now I CAN drink it if I need to squeeze a little bit more out of myself for a rare occasion. And now even small doses (green, black tea) have an effect.

Paul Britt said...

I have started to drink way to much again. I use to have a pot before going to work everyday! I ended up in the hospital because of that and two massive doses of cortisone at once. I know that I am pass do for backing off.

Boris said...

Thanks for commenting everyone. I still crave it, but it's certainly nice to not "NEED" caffeine anymore.

Anonymous said...

You're much more hardy than I! In my life, I've given up alcohol, cigarettes, and recreational drugs, but not caffeine. Actually, I find the Buddhist Middle Path is helpful in situations where I don't want to give something up completely. I like sweets, but if I eat too many of them, I start to enjoy them less (and it's not real good for me). I've heard this referred to as the law of diminishing marginal utility. Usually what I do then is fast for 24 hours, which kind of "resets" my tastes.

Boris said...

Hi Shawn,

Actually I've started to write about the law of diminishing returns several times - I will finish that soon and put it up now that you've mentioned it. Thank you.

I thought the middle path was fairly clear on no mind-altering drugs. Caffeine's not marijuana or LSD of course, and I'm guessing a lot of Buddhist monks enjoy their tea, but my personal opinion is that caffeine makes it harder to see things "as they are".

Aaron Friday said...

Coffee "feeds" beer to me. I drink beer to overcome coffee, and I drink coffee to overcome beer. When I drink either, I drink too much of both to counter-balance the other. They go together, they're both very addictive, and it sucks to be in their throes, to be quite honest.

Your thoughts are dead-on. Both are unnecessary, and while neither is outwardly life-altering in the short-term, both cost plenty in terms of life-force exhaustion.

I gave up both for 5 months recently, and enjoyed, focused on, and needed sleep like I never did before. Highs are not as high, and lows are not as low, like you said, and wakeful life is more even-keeled and BORING!

Boring! happens to be the trademark of non-addictive living. I'm pretty sure I'm addicted to caffeine, alcohol, and sugar. I'm also pretty sure these are all one in the same thing. I give up one, and the others follow more easily.

Off these drugs, I noticed that songs like "Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go" by Wham actually sound really damn good.

LOL! Sorry bro, but that's the truth. Chemicals rule our lives, and when we eliminate the "adult" chemical streams, we become more childlike and appreciate the faggier things in life.

That's hilarious, but it's sort of not funny because it's true.

Boris said...

I've kind of grown to like boring, but I hear what you are saying... I hope I don't end up liking "Wham!" - not sure I'm secure enough to admit it even if it happened. You have a lot of respect from me for that!

Aaron Friday said...

I love me some happy music! I don't have that Wham! song on my iPod though. It may be time to get it.