Breaking The Caffeine Cycle

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We have all been there. The eyelids start to sag. Your head feels heavier and heavier as it sways up and down. You snap back up in your chair just before falling out, hoping the guy in the next cubicle didn't hear you snoring. After a quick scan around the office, you put your chin back on your hand; all the time trying to fight the drowsiness that seems to slowly suck you back in. You are in good company. Millions of Americans are waging a daily war against drowsiness. Unfortunately, too many people think the only weapon in their arsenal is caffeine. Whether it is an energy drink, coffee or soda, the common denominator is caffeine. While there is nothing wrong with using this drug for an occasional pick-me-up, there are some problems to consider. Even though we don't give it much thought caffeine is a drug, a stimulant to be exact.

For those with caffeine dependence, missing that morning coffee or afternoon soda can result in mood swings, irritability and even headaches. These are actually signs of withdrawal. One of the ways caffeine affects your body is that it narrows the blood vessels (vasoconstriction) in your head. When your body is denied caffeine it caused the blood pressure in your brain increase, which can lead to headaches. Other effects of caffeine withdrawal are a loss of energy and decreased alertness. Obviously, pumping more caffeine into your body will resolve these issues, but only temporarily. As a result, people become trapped in a caffeine cycle where they have difficulty functioning without the substance and need to continuously ingest it. Breaking this cycle can be challenging, but there are physical and even mental benefits if you can.

The good news is that caffeine is not your only weapon in this war. There are some other strategies that can help you overcome those drowsy afternoons and maintain a more consistent energy level. First you need to understand what your body is trying to tell you. Why are you so tired? It may seem simple, but the most likely culprit is a combination of poor sleeping habits, improper nutrition and a lack of physical activity. Second, take inventory of your life and make some changes to improve your overall health. Getting more sleep, maintaining a balanced diet and exercising regularly will do wonders for your energy levels and help you break the caffeine cycle.
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