- Is it time to shake up your coffee routine?
Is it time to shake up your coffee routine?
🤸♀️ Stretch 67
I love love love coffee—to the point where it was the first thing on my mind in the morning (yay, coffee!) and the last thing at night (yay, coffee again in a few hours!)
But there was this nagging feeling that started getting louder and louder. After one too many cups, I'd often feel anxious, or sluggish and bloated if I drank it too late in the afternoon. Gradually, it became clear that coffee wasn't giving me the boost I thought it was. And still, the idea of giving up coffee seemed almost unthinkable.
It finally hit me how silly this was after reading an article by Nat Eliason, You have no idea how much better you could feel. The message: we have to periodically mess with our status quo. Change up our routines and habits. See how it feels. Don’t like it? Just switch back. Nothing lost.
I realised I was purposefully ignoring signs from my body, which started to feel a bit dumb short-sighted.
So, over the past 12 months, I’ve done two experiments:
Drink coffee more consciously/strategically
Switch to decaf
And hey, I’m not here trying to convince anyone to quit coffee. But if you’ve ever wondered what it would feel like if you changed your coffee routine, maybe it is time to dig a little deeper. Plus, it’s actually pretty fascinating stuff. Did you know about the effects of a chemical called adenosine on your body, or how decaf coffee is made? Yeah, me neither. Turns out, knowing more about this can really open your eyes.
Anyway, so far for my disclaimer. Let’s get to it! ☕️
01 — TO MAXIMIZE THE BENEFITS OF COFFEE, DRINK IT CONSCIOUSLY/STRATEGICALLY.
Coffee has lots of great physical and mental health benefits, and there’s no reason to cut it out entirely if you don’t need to.
But to really maximize the benefits of focus, alertness, mood and energy, it’s important to think about how and when you drink coffee. So much so that Andrew Huberman spent an entire episode talking about how to use caffeine to optimize mental and physical performance.
Here are a few tips he shared that I implemented, that made a massive difference in how I felt throughout the day.
1. Morning: delay
Start the day with a big glass of water and wait at least 60 minutes before having your first cup of coffee.
Water—because you're dehydrated from a long night's sleep.
Delay—because it will help offset the afternoon dip and improve energy and cognition.
This happens because of caffeine's interaction with a chemical called adenosine.
Adenosine builds up in your brain and body while you're awake, making you feel sleepy towards the evening. While you sleep, adenosine gets flushed out of your system. But not all of it.
When you drink caffeine immediately after waking up, you block the signal of the remaining adenosine. Sure, you feel alert and awake... but it's a false sense of energy.
Once the caffeine wears off, you get hit with the impact of that leftover adenosine in your system. That’s that infamous afternoon slump.
So if you want to avoid that afternoon slump, try holding off on drinking caffeine first thing in the morning. Give your body time to clear the adenosine surplus.
For anyone experiencing strong afternoon dips, this change alone should make a massive difference—it did for me!
2. Early afternoon: time & combine
For most people, energy levels go down in the early afternoon. That’s entirely normal, and regulated by your natural ultradian cycles.
If you rely on coffee to keep you going, it’s good to be intentional about the timing of your next cup. Take a look at your schedule, and have your cup shortly before any mentally or physically demanding task.
If you need stronger measures, you can experiment with combining coffee with a nap or NSDR session. (Non-Sleep-Deep-Rest or NSDR is a combination of body scan and exhale-emphasized breathing, shown to restore energy and dopamine levels. Here’s my go-to session.)
Since caffeine takes 10-20 minutes to kick in and energize you, you’ll feel the positive effects right as you wake up from your nap or finish your session.
3. Mid-afternoon: stop
The mean half-life of caffeine in plasma of healthy individuals is 5 hours. That means that 5 hours after you consume caffeine, half of it is still in your body.
Caffeine may not completely clear your bloodstream until after 10 hours.
This convinced me to stop drinking coffee past 3 pm.
You might feel like caffeine doesn’t affect you and you can easily fall asleep, but caffeine has been shown to disrupt the different phases of your sleep.
02 — TRY DECAF (BUT NOT JUST ANY BRAND.)
Now for the past two weeks, I’ve been experimenting with a switch to decaf coffee. Initially for medical reasons. In the spirit of knowledge sharing: some people are genetically more sensitive to caffeine and this may affect bladder sensitivity and overactive bladder symptoms. My doctor had mentioned trying cutting out caffeine for a while to see if it would make a difference, and I kept casually ignoring his suggestion. But, after one too many runs where I had to stop 4 times to find a bathroom, I admitted defeat and gave the non-caffeine life a try.
So for the past two weeks, I’ve been drinking decaf and I have to say… it’s great. I don’t seem to miss or need the caffeine in any way.
I’ve realized that more than anything, coffee is about the ritual for me. It’s about waking up and spending a few minutes preparing a hot, cozy drink. And the best part? I don’t need to wait for 60 minutes anymore! I can have my decaf coffee immediately after my big glass of water. Win win win!!
As I was checking out coffee brands to buy, I learned something new:
The large majority of the world’s decaffeination still happens through chemical-based processes that use things like methylene chloride or ethyl acetate. I don’t know what those are but it doesn’t sound like I want it in my body!
Luckily, there are brands out there who are using a more natural method of stripping caffeine from the beans, called the Swiss Water Method, using only water.
I’ve been using Four Sigmatic, a blend of coffee and mushrooms. The productivity-nerd in me can’t help but be excited about this mushroom stuff that supposedly helps with focus and calm. I was also pleasantly surprised to learn that decaf Nespresso pods also use the Swiss Water Method.
🔬 LET’S EXPERIMENT
Shake up your coffee habits: Challenge your default by experimenting with how, when and how much coffee you drink. If you’re curious to explore the impact of switching to decaf, try it out for a few weeks and see how you feel. These small adjustments can lead to significant changes in your energy levels, focus, and overall well-being—and you’ll never know unless you try.
Apply this experimental mindset to other habits: Tweaking your coffee routine is just one example of how shaking up your routines can lead to surprising benefits. You can apply this experimentation mindset to any other habits you suspect might not be serving you. Remember, it's all reversible—if you don't like the changes, you can always switch back.
Want to keep experimenting with me?
There are two ways we can work together:
Functional Breathing Training. Book a free taster session here. In the lovely words of Hesam Panahi, "In just 45 minutes, I was able to walk away with clarity about what I could accomplish by being more intentional with my breathing. Charlotte's advice was not only actionable, but also personalized based on my questions and interests. Talking with Charlotte saved me the hours of endless searching and dead-ends I would have experienced if I had tried to explore on my own.”
Body-Based Productivity. BBP is based on two fundamental principles: i. Take care of your body and your mind will follow. ii. Leverage your body as a tool to work and feel better. I offer personalized coaching and group workshops (recently co-created a session for a Fortune500 cosmetics company.) Hit reply to this e-mail for more info!
(If you’re not looking for any of the above but do enjoy this newsletter and want to support my work, you’re more than welcome to help me cover some of the platform fees it takes to keep this newsletter running. 🥰)
P.S. Next week’s Stretch is all about the impact of our breathing on our sleep quality. 😴 If you think of someone who might be interested in learning how they can improve their sleep through better breathing, you can invite them to sign up here.