Coffee is the most widely used simulant in the world. That shouldn’t come as a surprise, as millions of people in the United States drink at least a mug full each morning, not to mention throughout the day. Dunkin’ Donuts’ slogan is “America Runs on Dunkin’” and that seems to be about right.
If you’re a ritual coffee drinker or just a casual one, maybe you should think twice about that extra cup-o-jo.
A study from John Hopkins Medical School has shown that drinking coffee lowers your emotional intelligence. If you’re not sure what emotional intelligence (EI) is, here’s a Wikipedia article to give you some background. Basically, EI is how well you can control your own emotions and gauge other’s. In other words, being emotionally aware.
EI is an important aspect of everyday life and losing some control of it can cause issues. Being cranky from a lack of caffeine is a symptom of withdrawal, something most of us have seen or experienced our selves.
Many mornings have I been witness to the vacant look on my friend’s face as she comes downstairs and heads straight for the French press. She cannot function without two cups of coffee first thing in the morning. Usually cannot is an overstatement, but for her, no. It’s amazing the effect caffeine can have on a person.
Like any drug or stimulant, caffeine users need a dose to get them back up to normal. I’ve purposefully stayed away from coffee because I don’t want to need it start my day. I keep coffee in my emergency arsenal for the big stuff: finals, term papers, that concert that’s inconveniently only playing five hours away. It works for me and I save money, too!
Caffeine gives us a boost of adrenaline that can be very helpful. Unfortunately, when we’re sitting at a desk or riding the train a big boost of adrenaline isn’t really what we need. Adrenaline puts us on edge and can make us more irritable than not having that coffee, though your results will vary.
Caffeine also messes with our sleep cycle, which is perhaps why many people need so much coffee in the morning. Caffeine makes it so that we don’t get an appropriate dose of REM sleep. REM sleep is when our bodies do maintenance work and allows us to feel refreshed in the morning. If we’re interrupting this process because of excess caffeine and then ingesting more in the morning, we’re just making things harder for ourselves.
At this point it’s probably too late to stop drinking coffee altogether. If you’re up to the challenge, let us know how it goes. My suggestion is start (or continue) a healthy diet and make sure to exercise. You might feel more exhausted at the end of the day from that workout, but boy will you sure sleep well.