Caffeine: Too Much of a Good Thing?

CoffeeMost of us depend on caffeine to get us through the day, and we especially look forward to that first cup in the morning.  It helps us wake up, and gets us through a long hard day.  But unfortunately the bad side effects of caffeine can be unpleasant and sometimes even harmful. 

Excess caffeine can cause a fast heart rate, palpitations, tremors, restlessness, anxiety, depression,  difficulty sleeping, irritable bladder, excessive urination, stomach irritation, peptic ulcer, gastroesophageal reflux (GERD), nausea and vomiting.

Caffeine is notorious for interfering with much-needed sleep. Many people get in a viscious cycle of using caffeine to mask their sleep deprivation, but then the excess caffeine keeps them from falling asleep the following night. The best way to break this cycle is to avoid all caffeine eight to ten hours before your desired bedtime. Individual sensitivity to caffeine varies however.  People who are more sensitive to caffeine may need to avoid it 10 to 12 hours before bedtime, while others can drink it 4 hours before falling asleep.

Stretching exerciseSo how does one keep working for long hours, and stay awake and alert until it’s time to go to bed?   Exercise is a great way to wake up–it wakes up your body and your mind.  A brief 5-minute break of floor exercises, once every hour or so, can stretch stiff muscles and keep your mind alert and until it’s time to go to bed. 

Caffeine Content:

An eight ounce cup of drip-brewed coffee contains about 85 mg of caffeine, whereas eight ounces of black tea only has about 45 mg of caffeine and 12 ounces of Coke contains 35 mg of caffeine. Many of the so called Sports/Energy Drinks on the market are loading up on caffeine for that extra jolt and may contain over 150 mg of caffeine.

Caffeine is also present in chocolate and some over-the-counter pain relievers, cold medications, and diet pills. These products can contain as little as 16 milligrams or as much as 200 milligrams of caffeine. 

Caffeine and Alcohol Don’t Mix:

Contrary to the popular belief that coffee will sober you up after drinking too much alcohol, it can actually worsen the problem.  A recent study found that a high caffeine energy drink mixed with vodka actually reduced the participants’ perception of motor coordination compared with vodka alone.  This could obviously lead to disasterous consequences in a person who is drinking heavily away from home and has several cups of coffee to sober up before driving home.

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1 Response to “Caffeine: Too Much of a Good Thing?”

  1. 1Leah Lefebvre

    Nina, Good article. I’ll heed the advice.

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