Coffee Time – Or Not?

Did you know that the Finns consume most coffee per person in the world? And for many of us, it is something essential to get your day starting on the right track. But what if you are deprived of this black, and delicious substance?

It is no secret that I am a Muslim, so each year, I follow the Ramadan fast with the best of my ability. This means abstaining from, for instance, food and drink from the daybreak until the sunset. Including coffee. Today, as I am writing this, the fast is a few minutes short of 14 hours here in Spain, which is not overly bad as I can still have a small cup of my precious black gold in the evening.

But as the sunlight hours are different in different parts of the Earth, I am used to longer hours of fasting up in Finland. And that means less time to sleep – and less time to have coffee without it affecting the quality of sleep.

Caffeine contained in coffee and many other drinks, like sodas and tea, for instance, is a stimulant that can help you stay more alert and increase your energy levels. It does this by boosting up your central nervous system and increasing the dopamine signalling in your brain. And having these effects are the good ones.

But, like with any addiction, the troubles start when you ymwither consume caffeine too much during the day, or try to go cold turkey on it. In my opinion, they should have had a character in the Walking Dead series who is suffering from these. A whole new plot twist.

When you have too much caffeine in you, it will cause dehydration as it also whips up the kidney function. You might get shaky or jittery and have some odd headaches. Keep up the habit of drinking more coffee than water during the day for a while, and your blood pressure levels will stay elevated. Also, it can have an effect on the quality of your sleep.

Sounds pretty scary, right?

Well, for many of us who consume coffee several cups a day, not so. Because we, like so many other people in the world, know what we are doing and can quit anytime we want. Right?

Well, basically, there is no such thing as a “caffeine addiction” as it doesn’t mess up your brain like illegal substances. As such, you can quit and go cold turkey easier than with drugs.

But, having said that, bodies develop a dependence on caffeine, and quitting it can cause some… annoying withdrawal symptoms that start within 24 hours of your last cup and can last for a few days to a week, or so.

I’ve found out, time and time again, that my first signs of this withdrawal are tiredness and irritability. Next day comes the all-encompassing headache that will not go away with anything else than a cup of coffee. Even tea is not strong enough for me. That of course, causes concentration problems. For some these symptoms can also cause muscle pains and nausea.

Reading these, would you not consider caffeine a kind of drug? The withdrawal symptoms definitely sound like something that you see in the movies and TV series when someone quits illegal substances, right?

Actually, for the majority of us, coffee drinkers out there, caffeine is not an actual problem. So you can also enjoy your cup without heart palpitations. When used in moderation, caffeine is a safe and good thing. It can help you get up and ready for a gruelling day, improve your concentration at work, or write blogs. But try to avoid it after 6 pm as it can postpone the arrival of Mr. Sandman.

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