The cycle has reached it’s peak once again. I find that every 6 months or so I develop a dependency on caffeine that gets out of control and forces me to go caffeine-less for about a week to reset the balance. This is one of the crappiest weeks of the year.
At the peak of my caffeine dependency I’ll drink a monster energy drink right away in the morning followed by a cup of coffee or two to carry me into the afternoon and even that leaves me feeling groggy. That’s always my sign that I’m overdoing it and I need the reset. The week that follows I abstain from any caffeine sources and just roll with the awful lethargy that accompanies it. I will struggle-bus my way into the next week with great effort, but in the end it’s worth the pain.
Usually it just takes that week and I’m feeling a more normal level of tired with only minimal struggle to concentrate in the morning. Exercise can help offset the lack of caffeine for me as well. Once I feel somewhat normal again I’ll usually go back to black tea in the morning or a coffee on the rare occasion that I’m really having a tough time.
So how does this even happen? I’m usually very careful about not going crazy on caffeine to avoid this very scenario, but there are almost always a couple events that throw everything off track.
The first is a work related event where we are prepping for our annual user conference and the week leading up to it is ALWAYS filled with late nights and crazy last minute fixes. This year I put in over 80 hours the week before in order to meet our commitments for the conference. This results in some seriously groggy mornings that then lead to energy drinks and a perpetuating cycle of caffeine intake increases to stay ahead of the fatigue. It doesn’t take long to build a tolerance to caffeine and that’s not fun.
The second event is usually unrelated to work and is generally due to a lack of sleep at home due to sick kids, late school projects, TV show/new video game binges that reduce my sleep significantly. It never fails that some chain of these things gets me off track at least once per year.
So, what have I learned? I know what triggers my caffeine over-dependency. I know I don’t like when I have to correct it. The problem is developing the correct habits to prevent myself from falling into the cycle. Just depending on willpower is obviously not enough, so I’m going to have to do some more thinking on what I can do to develop better habits. I’ll let you know if I figure it out. In the meantime, if you have any tips of your own or stories to share I’d love to hear them.