It’s first thing in the morning, the alarm has just gone off, you reach over hit the snooze button and think about the need to get out of bed. You roll over and take ‘just another 5 minutes!’. The alarm goes off again, you reach over and stop it, manage to roll out of bed and dawdle your way over to the kitchen.
You turn the kettle on and wait, half asleep, for the water to boil. You make your first coffee of the day and take a deep breath to draw that smell in. You then wait in anticipation as you ready yourself for that first mouthful.
As it hits you feel your eyes start to open, life start to return and you ready yourself for the day. But what just happened?
When we wake in the morning, we naturally produce a stress hormone called cortisol that wakes us up. When we don’t produce it we often look for a little help. Most people turn to caffeine as the drug of choice!
We talk about this need for caffeine in the morning as an addiction, but really it is better and more accurate to call it a dependency. You see we become dependent on the caffeine to normalize our hormone response in the morning.
When we depend on a food source as a drug there are often consequences. In this case, the caffeine hides the underlying hormonal and blood sugar dysregulation, in short, it allows us to adapt to the dysfunction. But is this really what we want? To adapt to an abnormality?
When we try and hide our deficiencies the net result is often the progression of the condition to the next phase of dysfunction.
When it comes to caffeine, caffeine has multiple effects body. Whilst it does stimulate stress hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline providing a temporary increase in energy, caffeine also increases insulin production and blocks receptors in the brain that cause blood vessel dilation, in short, it restricts blood supply to the brain.
Whilst there are many negative effects to caffeine, there are some positive effects as well. However, when we become dependent on caffeine to start our day we can potentially create blood sugar irregularities increasing our need for stimulants later in the day.
Worse yet, if we happen to miss our caffeine hit in the morning, withdrawal from caffeine can be a nightmare effecting many systems within the body including the brain!
Once we reach dependency levels, increasing, decreasing or even changing the time of caffeine intake can lead to headaches and other symptoms.
To prevent dependency, we suggest a few key steps for coffee lovers!
- Limit caffeine use to after 11am when cortisol levels are naturally lower
- Limit coffee or black tea intake to no more than one every day
- Try to vary the time of day you have your caffeine as to prevent the body adapting to the intake.
Simple strategies can allow us to enjoy caffeine without running the risk of becoming dependent on it.