It’s hard to imagine a time when I didn’t need a solid shot of caffeine to get my day started. I know such a time existed, but it seems a long forgotten time. I’m often jealous of my 4-year old son, Nathan. Once his eyes open in the morning, he can vault out of bed and have a bottomless reserve of bodily energy that sustains him through the day. I’ve often said that I wish I could bottle some of Nathan’s energy and save it for times when it’s really needed.
In my twenties, I worked a number of different jobs throughout my college courses and travels. Some of these jobs included working as a security guard and often working overnight. Somehow I was able to accomplish these tasks without the use of caffeine. But now it seems I won’t survive my day without a coffee or an energy drink. Okay, yes… Before everyone gets on the anti-energy drink bandwagon, I’ll admit that they aren’t the greatest for you. But they also happen not to be the worst thing one can consume.
I believe it was in the early 2000’s, when I was managing a local pharmacy in my hometown in Northern New Brunswick, that I was truly exposed to caffeine for the first time. I had tried coffee at an earlier time, but this was the beginning of the end. A distributor for a popular brand of energy drink visited the store (I won’t name which one for liability reasons, but I will say it “gives you wings”) as we were slated to start carrying them in the store. I had never tried them before and the distributor offered me a sample. He was even able to accommodate my Diabetes by offering me a sugar-free alternative. I was hooked!
So how much caffeine is too much? According to the Mayo Clinic, an average adult can safely consume approximately 400 milligrams of caffeine per day. That’s roughly the amount of caffeine contained in four brewed cups of coffee or two energy drinks. (as per http://www.mayoclinic.org). This often depends on the blend of coffee and what else may be contained in them. It also depends on your weight, age and any outstanding health concerns that may be affected by caffeine. For example, my morning go-to wake up juice is a 473 mL can of energy drink. This gives me roughly 120 milligrams of caffeine to start my day. Problematically, I tend to start bottoming out towards the lunch hour and will follow up with a brewed cup of coffee. It’s definitely safe to say that I hit my four-cup limit by the time the evening arrives. I also happen to weigh close to 220 pounds!
This poses a different problem: how does caffeine affect your sleep? I, on the one hand, can down an energy drink at 8 pm and make it to bed by 10 pm and be snoring within moments (just ask my wife!). Some people are so sensitive to caffeine that if they don’t stop drinking it by the early afternoon, they won’t get a good night’s rest. It’s important to remember that the average person requires seven to eight hours of rest every night.
At the end of the day, caffeine is one of those things that need to be consumed in moderation but can be greatly enjoyed. An article from the New York Post back in November of 2012 suggests that coffee could disappear altogether by 2080 due to climate change and environmental issues (as per nypost.com). If I’m still around by then, I can easily imagine the chaos that will ensue.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to go grab a steaming cup of ambrosia,… I mean coffee!