Last month I found myself in the middle of my day, large iced tea in hand, staring at my computer...wondering, why do I feel exhausted? I had a decent night's sleep, I'm drinking my caffeinated beverage of choice...OK, I am pregnant so that is a bit of a disclaimer on the fatigue-front...and yet I have NO energy.
So, I went back to my personal drawing board to evaluate the situation. Going to bed early? Check. Sleeping most of the night? Check. Waking up refreshed? Check. Feeling tired by 2pm? Check! What was I doing wrong? I started thinking about what I was putting into my body throughout the day - I had been avoiding junk food - which I learned years ago makes me feel great for 45 seconds and terrible for 4-5 hours! I was staying well hydrated (many of my patients have noticed the purple sippy cup on my desk that is constantly full of ice water!). I was trying to find time to go for regular walks outside with my 2 year old daughter and my Puggle puppy. But, I kept feeling terrible by two.
I've heard of the terrible two's (my mom often reminds me that I embodied that phrase at that age!). But, never did I realize that I had fallen back into the terrible twos until I started analyzing my caffeine curve. Here was mine.... Wake up - feeling good. Make a homemade Earl Grey iced tea or grab a Dunkin Donuts one on the way in. Sip it throughout the morning. Start feeling tired about 11am and make a hot tea at the office. Feel energetic for about a half hour and then crash around 2pm wondering - why me? why now?
So, I decided, once and for all - to quit the constant caffeination and see if I felt any different. The first two days, I felt more tired than usual, a little headache-y and a little grumpy. But, I powered through! By day three, it was like magic - instead of iced tea (which I do miss the flavor of) I drank water, water, water. I found myself feeling happier, lighter, and more energetic. More Energetic?! It's true. My husband is sick of my proclamations about how terrible I felt B.D. (before decaffeination) and how much better I feel now!
I write this as a potential motivator for YOU! I definitely hear from patients all the time who feel exhausted. When I ask about caffeine intake they tell me that they can't get out of bed without their two morning cups of Joe. I urge you - focus on quality sleep, exercise, and water intake and TRY to quit the caf. See if it makes you feel as GOOD as it has made me feel!
Lauren Hedde, DO and Mark Turshen, MD are Family Physicians and Founders of Direct Doctors, Inc. a Direct Primary Care Practice.