Wednesday, 7 October 2009

Caffeine-free for more energy, a clear head and better sleep

Giving up caffeine is proving more difficult than I thought. After a confession that I broke my 100-day challenge after 35 days, it’s happened again. Away from the world and with only the weather to worry me, peppermint tea wasn’t enough, so green tea filled the void (and flask). And how good it tasted! A rather long drive back also benefited from a little chemical help, and the joys of Red Bull were discovered. For anyone who is interested – that stuff really does work!

I must admit that after one embarrassing fall from grace I was all for quietly going back to my caffeine habit without another word. Except that, all the reasons I originally wanted to give it up are still there:

  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Headaches
  • Difficulty concentrating after too many cuppas
After having got caffeine out of my system, my body isn’t too thrilled at it being back, with headaches being the most noticeable symptom. So I’m having another go.

Much has been written on how long it takes to form a habit, but most advice underestimates the length of time needed. Dr Maxwell Maltz published a book in 1960 where he observed that amputees took, on average, 21 days to adjust to the loss of their limb. From this he deduced that people could adjust to major life changes within the same time. Later research has found that much smaller changes, such as eating fruit or walking every day, take 66 days or longer for the habit to stick. With or without all your limbs.

As for the caffeine, the energy-filled Chris Fenn has reported that oil workers on offshore oil rigs benefited from better moods, higher energy levels, improved sleep and fewer headaches as a result of giving up caffeine.

So it’s in open and shut case: to the great dismay of everyone who has to work with me, I’m back on my caffeine-free challenge. And I promise not to utter another word about it until I have successfully completed 100 days!

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