Caffeine DOESN’T boost your energy.
Contrary to its common depiction in the media, taking shots of espresso doesn't actually give us that jolt of sunshine and rainbows that we crave.
Rather, caffeine interrupts the signals that tell our brain we are sleepy. This is why we crash, similar to that of a sugar rush. Those signals that were just meandering around, pounce once our morning coffee wears off, and suddenly the only thing desirable in that moment is a nap.
Addiction: the common enemy that college students are all too familiar with.
We often resort to laughing about the concept because it's easier than accepting the realities that were once inconceivable to our naive high school selves. In the past few months, I actually stopped drinking coffee altogether and reached for something stronger instead. "Coffee just doesn't work for me," I'd tell me friends. False. My sophomore routine of starting each day with iced coffee has just come to bite me in the ass.
Because caffeine intercepts the signals which are trying to tell our brain that we can't actually handle five hours of sleep, our body compensates by producing more and more of them. Just like your alcohol tolerance increases to the point where you're completely unfazed after you down three glasses of wine in front of your family at Thanksgiving dinner, that one cup of coffee will never be the same.
What's the (slightly) healthier solution? Without getting into the behind science it, here are some tips to optimize your caffeine intake so that you can actually function without Red Bulls and 5-Hour Energies.
Wait for a bit after you wake up. Eat something, be a normal human being for an hour, and then reach for that cup of coffee. Your body is already trying to wake itself up naturally, so give it a chance to do that first.
1. Don't let yourself crash
But be careful not to wait too late so that you can actually sleep at night. It can be tricky to find the right balance in the afternoon. A good rule of thumb is re-caffinating after lunch.
2. Nap after your coffee
It sounds irrational, I know, but plenty of research has shown that caffeine takes time to enter our bloodstream. Again, I won't go in depth about the science; however, if you take 20 minutes to lie down after your second dosage of the day, you'll be able to experience the energizing effects yourself.
3. If you work out, warm up with a cup of coffee
Unless you work out at night, then that's your call. Logically (and scientifically proven), caffeine helps improve physical performance and elongate motivation.
4. Drink several, small servings through your day
This last one may be the most interesting and perhaps the most effort, but it could be worth the inconvenience. If you have a temperature-regulating bottle, fill it up with coffee and sip on it throughout the day to exhibit your efficiency for as long as you'd like to, as opposed to limiting yourself to a few hours of the day.