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I know when I wake up, especially early to catch the train into the city, the first thing on my mind is “I need some caffeine.” This statement always ends up being a stop to Starbucks, plus the cup of coffee I had before I got on the train. Why is caffeine such an addicting energy boost? I only started drinking it at the end of high school and have continued through college because that’s the only way to keep up with everything and still be alert. Sleep has been put on the back-burner, especially for younger people in school and those with jobs, since success is such a strong motivation in our country. In order to maximize efforts under little sleep, caffeine just keeps everything level for those addicted to the “drug.”

I read an article recently that apparently explains how coffee addicts experience the effects of caffeine – it doesn’t add any alertness, but just brings you back to normal functionality. The anxiety-producing and alertness effects stop working when you’re an addict and the only effect you’re getting is the reduction of caffeine withdrawal.

Read more about that study here.

The idea that coffee isn’t even effective to begin with (at least for me, who needs caffeine to function) has made me determined to create a list of how one can stay awake during the day, but also get the sleep you need under the pressures of caffeine. Apparently, men get more bang for their buck with caffeine, absorbing more the effects of it than women, which kind of disappointed me that this is the case. In retrospect, that means women that drink caffeine later will be able to fall sleep quicker than men who do the same thing. Anyway, here’s a list of important ways of staying on top of sleep if you’re a caffeine addict:

1. Stop drinking caffeine as early on in the day as possible, so by the time you go to sleep, you’re actually tired.

2. Drink non-caffeinated drinks – if your body tastes coffee, tea, or soda (they don’t taste all that different without caffeine), a placebo effect could trick your body into thinking it’s getting caffeinated when it’s really not.

3. Completely stop drinking caffeine all together or use it as a special treat at the end of the work week, for example. Drink it moderately like you moderate other things like dessert or alcohol intake and find other, healthier ways to stay awake.

4. The most obvious one, just plan your day so you can go to SLEEP early. That’s the most important, plus natural way to gain the energy you need for a day without resorting to stimulants like coffee. I wish I could say I get enough sleep, but it’s common knowledge that 7-9 hours of sleep is what most adults need to function. The fact that people don’t get enough sleep is the most common reason that caffeine is such a tempting addiction, but the truth is that caffeine doesn’t even really help after a while. You’re just drinking it to get by, so sleep should be a priority in order to prevent this from happening.

5. A way to fade your caffeine energy before you go to sleep is to read before you go to bed. Put away the laptop, turn off all the lights except for a reading light, and lie down with a good book. If you read long enough, the lying down on the bed part will catch up with you and you’ll fall asleep due to the relaxation of the activity. However, just remember to turn off the light before you go to bed or you STILL won’t get adequate sleep!

In general, caffeine is something that helps us get by, but you still have to get that sleep in order to function effectively and survive the work day without crashing. While caffeine is an inevitable addiction for some people, it’s just good to remember that a good combination of caffeine and sleep will keep everything going smoothly – you just got to stay on top of it all!

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