For many of us, caffeine is a wonder drug that helps us get out of bed in the morning. If your first inclination when you step out of bed is to make yourself a cup of coffee, then you’re certainly not alone. Caffeine has the unique ability to mitigate drowsiness and increase alertness. Who wouldn’t want that? But, caffeine is far from a perfect substance and it can cause negative health side effects if used for extended periods of time.
Indeed, caffeine is considered a stimulant drug, and although it is safe to consume, there are some distinct drawbacks. We’ll talk about a few of them below.
- Increased Anxiety
Alertness is one of the most desired effects of caffeine, but it can go too far. Too much caffeine consumption can lead to the kind of alertness you don’t want. Racing thoughts, overwhelming stress, and, in severe cases, panic attacks can all occur as a result of caffeine-related anxiety. This is even worse for people who have been diagnosed with a clinical anxiety disorder. If you find yourself more anxious than attentive, it might be time to cut back on your caffeine consumption.
- Elevated Heart Rate
An elevated heart rate can lead to all sorts of health problems. If it only occurs once in a while after you’ve had a few too many cups of coffee, then it shouldn’t be cause for concern. But, if you consistently feel your heart racing after consuming caffeine, then it may be time to cut back. An elevated heart rate can lead to hypertension and further heart problems as you age.
- Cycle of Exhaustion and Alertness
Many people who get stuck on caffeine’s wakeful powers can experience both sides of the spectrum. Your exhaustion might lead you to consume caffeine, but your alertness might keep you awake at night. This can lead to an unfortunate cycle of insomnia, fatigue, and hyper-awareness that isn’t conducive to productivity. Of course, if you have trouble sleeping at night, then you will be exhausted in the morning. If you’re only cure for morning fatigue is more caffeine, then it will be difficult to break the cycle.
Like most stimulant drugs, caffeine can be highly addictive. We often poke fun at our own inability to function without coffee, but that could be a sign of addiction. Caffeine withdrawals can range from mild to severe. Symptoms include headaches, excessive daytime sleepiness, irritability, and confusion.
So what does this all mean and how can you stop the cycle of caffeine consumption? For starters, it’s a good idea to start eating a healthy diet filled with fruits and vegetables. Apples are known to produce virtually the same effects as a cup of coffee without all the disadvantages. Exercise can also be a powerful tool in maintaining energy and alertness throughout the day. Again, we’re not saying that you have to give up caffeine, but there are certainly alternatives that you can use.