Some people might think this is blasphemy, but I gave up my coffee habit.
I work overnights. I wake up when the rest of the world goes to bed… then stare at a computer screen in solitude for most of my shift. As you can imagine, it’s not particularly easy to go to bed at 2pm. Nor is it easy to wake up at 9:30pm.
I was intrigued when a radio DJ I follow on twitter — who works about the same hours I do — mentioned that he had given up caffeine for a while, and had never slept better.
But… I had been getting through my odd hours with the aid of coffee! By the standards of one cup being eight ounces: I’d been drinking probably three-to-four cups a day. It would wake me up. And then, on the weekends (which suck for overnight workers — no staying up past eight on a Friday night), I’d get coffee and still be able to fall asleep, standing up, at a heavy metal concert.
There was no way I was going to be able to give up coffee. But I decided to cut the coffee cord when my house had a bit of a mice issue (mouse issue?) and I woke up to find a little “present” from one of our “friends” on top of the coffee maker. No thanks. Then my backup, the gas station, was cleaning their coffee makers, and didn’t have any coffee! Jerks.
So, I said to myself, “now would be a good time to try and get that coffee monkey off my back.”
I don’t recommend doing what I did. Cold turkey is not good. I felt like absolute crap every night at work for a week. I ended up having a couple Diet Cokes when my head crashed into my keyboard, and I started dreaming about ex-boyfriends.
But, during my allotted sleep time at home, I slept like a baby! (And in the midst of Mousepocalypse 2013, no less.)
Months later, I’m still sleeping great. I fall asleep fast, and generally stay asleep. If I wake up, I go back to dreamland. The withdrawal is gone, and I am making it through my overnight shift without coffee… probably because I’m sleeping better. I do drink quite a bit of green tea now, but it’s the non-caffeinated version.
I’ve watched enough “Behind the Music” and read enough rock-star memoirs to know how addiction works. No, I’m not comparing coffee to cocaine or heroin or even pills or nicotine or alcohol. I’d never minimize the monster of serious addiction like that. But, caffeine was studied as a drug in my freshman psychology class. It works the same: you get an effect, build up a tolerance, realize you feel like a big pile of yuck without it, and then you’re a slave to the buzz.
Am I anti-coffee? Hell, no. But I’m not dependent on it every day. When I need a boost, it will actually work — and I can enjoy a romantic dinner with my husband on a Saturday night that isn’t at 4pm.
PS: We washed the mouse-tainted coffee maker, by the way. Just in case that part of the story was still bugging you.
For those of you who did ditch coffee, did you find that it helped you sleep? Or is it worth sleeping poorly to stay awake?