How Coffee Causes Fatigue

by in American Sickcare System, Caffeine, Coffee, Fatigue February 27, 2008

cup-of-coffee.jpgDo you Really Need that Afternoon Cup of Coffee?

I will not dispute the fact that many people (me included) simply do better with a nice cozy cup of coffee or tea to start their day. But what I do wonder, is if people really need that afternoon stimulant pick-me-up.

They say in order to ensure a good night’s sleep that one should not consume caffeinated beverages after 2pm. Caffeine in our system leaves us jittery and irritable and unable to engage in sound sleep for the most part. The lack of great sleep one night leads to a groggy morning the following day, which then sets the stage for another drowsy afternoon fueled by caffeine…and the caffeine-sleep pattern perpetuates.

So, you may be intrigued enough at this point to consider giving up your afternoon stimulants, yet may be left wondering “what can I do to treat a bad case of the afternoon slumps”.

When I worked at Virginia Mason we would refer to 4pm as “Slump time”. The nurses would feed me peanut M & M’s which they referred to as “Prozac” to treat my “slumpies”. After making it through Naturopathic Medical School I have learned a few helpful tips better than peanut M & M’s for treating the afternoon slumpies:

First of all PREVENTION is the best medicine, so be sure to eat protein and vegetables for lunch. A high carbohydrate lunch will simply make the slumpies a million times worse. Before reaching for an afternoon cup of caffeine, consider trying the following first:

1. Be sure you are not dehydrated, you should have already had at least four 8 oz glasses of water by mid-afternoon. Dehydration is a leading cause of fatigue, and easily treatable!

2. Try to stop and stretch and do some deep breathing. We tend to sit hunched over at our desks all day long, which deprives the system of optimal oxygen levels. Sit up straight, breathe and let your lungs open to their full capacity.

3. Get in the fresh juice habit. I find that a glass of fresh vegetable juice actually picks me up better than caffeine.

4. Try a packet of Emergen-C in a glass of water. Some people think that the B-vitamins will give you an added lift without making you jittery (really do you want to actually be working so hard?)

5. If all else fails and you just need some sort of caffeine then try grabbing for a cup of green tea instead of coffee. Green tea is a powerful “super food” and adding more green tea in to your lifestyle is a simple way to protect your system from a variety of diseases.

6. Fatigue can be caused by a myriad of problems, if you experience a level of fatigue that is suddenly worse for you, or a case of fatigue that is debilitating (not just the average afternoon laziness) be sure to check in with your doctor!

Author: Dr. Nicole Sundene
Naturopathic Physician

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