Thursday, December 26, 2013

Giving up caffeine

Being a proposal writer, I am under tight deadlines made extreme by project teams that are unable to provide content or feedback in timely manner. I am not only new to this company, but I am also new to this industry. So I have no pre-existing knowledge to leverage, and I can only gauge the quality of the submission based on logic and intuition rather than technical comprehension.

This situation gave me severe heart palpitations on a daily basis. When I looked up this condition on WebMD, I was directed to this link (http://www.webmd.com/heart/heart-palpitations-directory) which states the following:

Heart palpitations can be the result of stress or too much caffeine. They can also be a sign of a heart problem such as a heart rhythm disorder. While infrequent palpitations may not be a sign of something serious, any unusual heart rhythms that recur should be evaluated by a doctor. 

Based on the above, I decided to remove caffeine from my diet entirely so that I would be better able to handle my new level of stress. Six months later, I am happy to report that my hypothesis proved true. Though I still experience palpitations, the frequency has been greatly reduced.

To give up caffeine without suffering from the more violent symptoms of withdrawal (migraines, vomiting, etc) I basically weaned myself off caffeine over the course of two months as follows:

Week 1 - I limited my caffeine intake to one morning mug of coffee composed of two (2) tablespoons of regular coffee.

Week 2 - I reduced my caffeine consumption by having the one mug of coffee composed of one and half (1.5) tablespoons of regular coffee (so one tablespoon, one teaspoon and one quarter teaspoon), and half (0.5) tablespoon of decaffeinated coffee (so one teaspoon and one quarter teaspoon). I continued this ratio until the fourth week.

Week 4 – I reduced the ratio to one (1) tablespoon of regular coffee and one (1) tablespoon of decaffeinated coffee. I continued this ratio until the sixth week.

Week 6 – I reduced the ratio further to one and half (1.5) tablespoons of decaffeinated coffee (so one tablespoon, one teaspoon and one quarter teaspoon), and half (0.5) tablespoon of regular coffee (so one teaspoon and one quarter teaspoon). I continued this ratio until the eighth week.

Week 8 – I was now decaffeinated. My morning mug is composed of two (2) tablespoons of decaffeinated coffee.

By week 8, I felt like a truck had run over me. In addition to that hollowed out feeling, I found myself somewhat narcoleptic. I often fell asleep on the subway ride to and from work, and I was sleepy for most of the day everyday for about a month. At night, I would be fast asleep by 9:30 PM at the latest, and I would wake up easily at 6:30 AM.

After four weeks of being decaffeinated, I was able to regain a more normal sleeping pattern, and both the hollowed out feeling accompanied by narcolepsy went away. The other benefit to being decaffeinated is that I fall asleep easily at night, and I don’t feel like I have frayed nerves. This alone was one of my main accomplishments in 2013.

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