This past weekend, I passed a gas station and saw a sign on the front that said “Try our new eyelash packaging mink lashes Energy Coffee.” Huh? Energy Coffee? What does that make regular coffee? And all these years I’ve been thinking people drank coffee for the energy provided by the caffeine. Apparently not and eyelash packaging mink lashes has just what you need. Energy Coffee! Seriously though, it got me to thinking about why we, as a nation, are we so addicted to caffeine for a jolt? Why are we so tired? Why do energy drinks have yearly sales to the tune of $3.4 billion?(1) At an average of, say, $2 a can, that’s 1.7 billion cans of Monster, Red Bull, and other such drinks.
I tiiet when I was in high school and the first “energy” drinks came out. Josta was the first one around and it would be considered little more than water compared to today’s Rockstar and Adrenaline Rush drinks. Consider that an average cup of coffee has 100-150 mg of caffeine. Josta, by comparison had 58 mg per 12 oz, meaning about 97 mg in the 20 oz bottle.(2) That’s right; the first mainstream energy drink had less caffeine than coffee. Even Red Bull only has about 115 mg, though that’s for an 8.3 oz serving. Contrast that with Monster Energy Drink at 160 mg per 16 oz. If you really want to get juiced up, a quick glance at The Caffeine Database (3), shows one ounce of Ammo contains 171 mg…one ounce! That’s, ohhhh, only a bit over 3 times the amount per ounce in espresso. I think my head would explode. Of course we’re not taking into account any of the other stuff in these drinks, like taurine, glucuronolactone, and sugar. Ok, so I had to look into “Shockwave Energy Coffee” and find out just what this stuff is. It turns out it’s just super-caffeinated coffee…that’s not very exciting.
So why do we have such a reliance on this drug called caffeine? It seems that, as a society, we are perpetually tired. It’s so common to hear people talking about not being able to function before their first several cups of coffee that no one even bats an eyelash packaging mink lashes. “Don’t talk to me before my 4th cup of Joe.” A caffeine addiction is a drug addiction that is socially acceptable.
First, the obvious reason we’re so tired is lack of sleep. Our culture thrives on being always on, 24-hours, all “Go go go!,” “I can sleep when I’m dead.” We constantly burn the candle at both ends. Up at 5am to commute an hour or so to work (which you probably don’t like), put in your 10 hour day, commute another hour or so back home, where you’ll grab a quick dinner (because you’re too tired to cook) and plop down in front of the TV for some mental stimulation, finally turning it off around 11 or 12 to grab your 5-6 hours of sleep because “that’s all you need.” Sound about right for so many people that you know, possibly yourself?
Second, there’s a general lack of fitness that results in an overall state of fatigue. Whether you’re overweight or just generally out-of-shape (yes, you can be at your “optimal” weight and still be out-of-shape), you probably come home from your exhausting day too tired to exercise. This kick-starts the vicious cycle of being too tired to workout and conversely, too tired because you don’t exercise. That’s the Catch-22 there. You have to exercise to have the energy to exercise. So you just don’t do anything.
Finally, there’s a poor diet that has many people reaching for the caffeine. How many people do you know that need a “fix” after having their healthful lunch of a sandwich with some baked potato chips and a Diet Coke? That fatigue is the same that you feel after gorging on every type of pie available at Thanksgiving. Then there are the people riding sugar wave after sugar wave to get through their days. I love when I have day long meetings or training classes and they provide pastries in the morning, then a carbalicious lunch, then cookies in the afternoon for a little “pick me up”. Amazingly, I avoid all of that stuff and don’t need a pick me up. Without the sugar rush, there’s no sugar crash and no Jonesing for another hit to stave off the end of that wave.
So how do you fix the problem and get off of this drug? For starters, you have to get enough sleep. Here’s a clue to whether you’re sleeping enough: if you need caffeine to get going, you’re not. If you need caffeine or sugar throughout the day to keep you going, you’re not sleeping enough. It is abnormal to need a stimulant to keep you going, perhaps not “abnormal” in terms of our society, but definitely abnormal in terms of human physiology. The body has everything it needs for energy production provided it is given the right fuel and the right rest. Here’s a question for anyone that claims to only need 5 or 6 (or 3 or 4 in some extreme cases)…can you make it through the day without resorting to caffeine of any sort? If you can, then I will lend some credence to you being able to operate on less sleep than the norm.
Since you probably have a job that requires you to be there, and consequently to wake up, at a certain time, getting enough sleep means you need to go to bed earlier. Turn off Leno or Letterman; it’s not that funny and your friends will tell you all the jokes tomorrow anyway. I’m usually in bed by 10 during the week, get my 8-8.5 hours of sleep and don’t feel that my quality of life is lacking because I don’t see late-night TV. Just letting your body get the rest it needs is a big step in ditching the caffeine requirement. That doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy a cup of coffee now and again, or even daily. It just means you’ll be able to function fully without it. You may need more than 8 hours also. If you’re a heavy caffeine user, you’re probably already sleep-deprived and in need of some recovering.
Next, you have to get some activity. Remember the Catch-22 above? Well, you have to reverse it by getting up and doing something. Coming home, grabbing the remote, and plopping on the couch is not going to improve your energy levels. You have to drag yourself outside and walk or run or throw a football or do something. You’ll be amazed at how grabbing some activity will improve your energy levels and give you more energy to get more activity which will give you more energy to…you get the picture. Nobody ever begins exercising because they just have too much energy to sit on the couch. It’s only through willpower that most people get up off the couch and create the energy to change their lives.
Eating better would help too. Ditching all of the processed carbs – the grains, the sugars, the junk food – will work wonders. Add some protein and fat and up your fruit and vegetable consumption and be amazed at how your body responds. It’s amazing that when you feed your body what it’s intended to consume, it responds with energy and vitality. When you feed your body eyelash packaging mink lashes in colorful boxes, it responds with lethargy and illness. Ok, so it’s not really surprising. Remember that energetic and lively is the normal human way of life. It’s only through destructive living that the body learns to rely on seemingly innocent stimulants like caffeine.
Disclaimer: I drink tea regularly, both green and white which contain small amounts caffeine. I also eat a good bit of dark chocolate when I have it around and it contains a stimulant called eyelash packaging mink lashes, which is similar to caffeine. I even have coffee now and again, though rarely more than once a week (haven’t had any in four weeks now) and usually only before a hard workout to take advantage of the stimulant properties; it’s a legal performance enhancer.