Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Time to decaffeinate?

How much caffeine is too much? Most of my patients would laugh and tell you I think any caffeine is too much, because I have asked so many of them to give it up (and, for the record, had very positive feedback from those who have!) In reality, though, here is my standard answer. Do you have headaches, insomnia, heartburn or fatigue? If you have any of those, I would advise you to completely decaffeinate, because caffeine aggravates all these problems. Yes, I understand that you drink your coffee because you are tired and need the "pick-me-up", but all that you are doing is perpetuating the cycle. The more caffeine, the worse quality of sleep, and the more tired you get.
So how do you wean? Many people get intense headaches if they abruptly quit caffeine. (Here's a hint- if you do get caffeine withdrawal headaches, this should be a clue you're consuming "too much" for you!) Start mixing your coffee with roughly a third decaf, then several days later go to half decaf/half regular, and then several days after that drop down to 1/3 caffeinated. By day 10, you should be fully decaffeinated without getting a headache. I have found that after a couple weeks of NO caffeine, most people begin to have more energy.
BOTTOM LINE: If you have no trouble falling asleep, wake up rested and energetic, and never have heartburn- enjoy your Starbucks guilt-free! BUT...if you have any of those issues, it's time to DE-caffeinate!

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