30 Day Challenge: No Coffee

I’m going cold turkey on coffee for 30 days to see what happens!

Over the years, I’ve been a regular and high volume consumer of coffee. On an average day, I think I’d probably have 6-8 cups which is a mix of espresso and instant coffee. Despite the daily coffee intake, I can drink a coffee at 11pm and still get to sleep in just a couple minutes.

So, why stop drinking coffee? Three words – sleep, cortisol, blood pressure.

I don’t get a lot of sleep each night, I’ve always been a night owl. However, while I don’t get much sleep per night, I also don’t need much sleep either. Looking at my Garmin watch data, on average I get between five and six hours of sleep a night. That of course is at least two hours less than what is recommended and what most people require to function properly.

Cortisol is a hormone that your body produces when it is under any type of stress. It is produced by the adrenal system. Cortisol helps control the body’s use of fats, proteins and carbohydrates; suppresses inflammation; regulates blood pressure; increases blood sugar; can also decrease bone formation; and the cortisol hormone also controls the sleep/wake cycle.

As mentioned recently, I’ve been living with high blood pressure since 2015 when I was 35 years old. I never had high blood pressure before then, I don’t know what or why something in my body changed but it did.

It got me thinking though, maybe as I got a little older, my body’s needs changed and my night owl behaviour, general low amounts of sleep were no longer sufficient to allow my body to recover. Maybe I’ve been using coffee as a crutch for a long time to prop me up and keep me going. Maybe I can fall asleep after drinking coffee late at night, not only because I have developed intolerance to its effects but because my body is generally exhausted.

I always find it helpful to look for an extreme or outlier of some sort when doing research. I think a good example for this might be a professional athlete. Professional athletes have an incredible work load, they are up early in the morning, train multiple times per day, pay a lot of attention to post-workout recovery activities, they place a lot of emphasis on food to nourish their body to help it recover and they prioritize sleep aggressively. Why do they prioritize sleep so much, well it is when your body gets to work repairing itself, undoing all of the stress induced over the day.

My 30 day challenge is simple in nature – I’m going to stop drinking coffee, which will give me a new baseline for what ‘tired’ feels like. I’ll start going to bed earlier to help my body recover better and maybe my blood pressure will come down. Even if the latter doesn’t happen, getting more sleep is a good thing and maybe I’ll feel more alert, clearer in mind, better able to tackle the day.

Stay tuned.