Cutting Back on Coffee

I won’t lie. I’ve got a caffeine dependency. I started drinking coffee when I was fourteen and have never looked back. In recent years, I’ve looked at coffee as a minor vice that has some decent health benefits in moderation. Mark Sisson wrote the definitive guide to coffee a few years ago, which I have broadly followed:

That said, evidence suggests caffeine elevates blood glucose levels in Type-2 diabetics. Moreover, I’ve been reading Matthew Walker’s book, Why We Sleep: Unlocking the Power of Sleep and Dreams. His thesis is that sleep is fundamental to human health. Those who don’t get at least seven hours of deep sleep a night are doing great harm to themselves. Almost every page is an eye-opener none more so than his discussion of caffeine.

Caffeine perks us up and helps keep us awake by mimicking adenosine. Adenosine is created by the brain and helps us fall asleep. It builds up during the day and binds onto adenosine receptors on nerve cells. This causes sleepiness. Caffeine binds to these receptors, blocks adenosine and promotes wakefulness.

This probably wouldn’t be a problem except for the fact that it takes a long time for our bodies to get rid of the caffeine in our system. According to Dr Walker, it takes seven hours for our bodies to remove half of the caffeine we have ingested. So even if I drink a coffee at noon, I’ll still have a significant amount of caffeine in my system at ten o’clock.

After re-watching Dr Walker’s talk with Joe Rogan, I made 5:00pm my cut-off time for coffee. Having delved deeper into the link between poor sleep and caffeine through his book, my plan is to move my coffee cut-off back an hour every day. Today it will be 4:00pm, tomorrow 3:00pm and so on. Eventually, the cut-off will go back to my first coffee of the day, which is a massive venti at 6:30am. From there, I will reduce the size of the coffee to something resembling a non-addict’s.

At the moment, I’m not that concerned about the effect cutting back on coffee may have on my blood glucose. It’s really more about general health. I’ll write a weekly update detailing my wellbeing, sleep habits and blood glucose levels.

By the by, Walker included a fascinating diagram from a NASA study which gave spiders various drugs and then observed their web building skills. Caffeine produced a pretty terrible outcome:

Nasa gave spiders DRUGS – how their webs changed when high ...

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