When was the last time you felt your caffeine buzz? Like... really felt it? You remember the early days, your first few mugs of coffee? That boost of brain power and energy that had you talking big ideas with your friends and feeling like you could take on the world?
You probably still consume caffeine, so what changed?
In a word, you. You changed. Your body's chemistry changed. It got used to that early AM caffeine boost, and it reduced its output of cortisol.
What's cortisol you ask? Cortisol is the stuff your body uses to wake you up and make you alert for the day, among other important functions. These include healing wounds, balancing the metabolism, and helping with short term memory. Sounds like cortisol is good stuff, right? Seems like maybe you want your body to keep making it.
But you're not making as much of it as you should, because you're subjecting your adrenal glands to caffeine before they've finished producing the cortisol you need. Over time, your body adjusts to the early morning caffeine intake, and limits its cortisol production. So instead of waking up feeling like awake and alert, you wake up "needing" an immediate boost. You're fiending for something you've stopped your body from producing.
This is why we talk about caffeine addiction.
The good news is, there are plenty of times during the day where your body is not naturally producing cortisol. If you wake up around 8 AM, cortisol production will drop off around roughly 9:30 AM. It will then return from roughly noon to 1:00 PM, and again between 5:30 and 6:30 PM. What this means is that you have two windows during the day to get your daily dose of caffeine, so you can actually feel it and make it count. You want to supplement, not replace your body's ability to be alert and wakeful.
Using this knowledge from Steven L. Miller, Ph.D. via his blog, we worked up an ideal daily cycle of caffeine to help you get the most of your mental boost.
We wanted to use an ideal dosage of caffeine, so we decided on 40 mg per serving, roughly half a red bull or a half of a weak coffee. It might not sound like much considering Five Hour Energy contains five times that amount, but according to LiveScience it is the ideal dosage to increase reaction speeds and alertness. Small regular doses were also found to be the most effective in cognitive boost according to this 2004 study.
Alright: We've got our dosage, we know when to avoid caffeine. Let's map our attack.
Don't. Drink. Coffee.
I know. You 'need' it. 'It's ritual.' We're not here for excuses, we're here to get the most of our caffeine. We're here to fight impulse and use science to get the most of our day. So just be calm. We know what we're doing here.
Now you're equipped to tackle your day the smart way, backed by science, and optimized for use with the way your body naturally prepares itself. Get out there and try the plan, and let us know how it treats you!
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