An unstimulating week

9 June 2010

Written by: Matt de Neef

I rarely press snooze on my alarm clock. I literally cannot wait to get out of bed and have my first cup of coffee for the day. Call me crazy, perhaps an aficionado but addicted, the thought never crossed my mind.

A recent study in the UK found that the alertness that caffeine provides is all an illusion. Because we build up a tolerance by drinking it every day, we are always buzzing, never really pinging. The daily hit just keeps the headaches at bay.

I have heard this before and still don’t believe it to be true. So I am going to test it on myself, a hardcore coffee drinker.

My first cup is in my pyjamas. I have held this ritual for the past nine years; it is an obsessive compulsion of mine. The rest vary, but mostly I have a strong soy latte before 8am, then at 10am a piccolo latte. For lunch I have a long black then another piccolo. In the afternoons I lay off the joe and have a black tea with a piece of chocolate.

Even writing that down sounds over the top. Goodness gracious, I am putty in caffeine’s stimulating hands.

Due to this epiphany I have decided to take all caffeine off my menu for the next seven days. This includes of course coffee, chocolate, soda, energy drinks and all teas except the herbal varieties.

I am going cold turkey, which seems harsh considering it takes two to five days for the withdrawal symptoms to disappear. I’ve had a look around and I will apparently experience headaches, irritability, fatigue, anxiety, lack of motivation, basically bitchiness which all sounds peachy.

Apparently too much caffeine causes the same symptoms, known as caffeinism, a mental disorder brought on by caffeine. I don’t want to become a case study in some journal of psychiatry so I’m going to get a handle on this now.

Wish me luck, I will update every evening to let you know how many customers I screamed at and conclude with a cup of coffee next Sunday; I already can’t wait.  If you don’t have anything else on this week try ditching the caffeine with me, I dare you.

Meghan Lodwick is a Master of Global Communications student at La Trobe University. You can follow Meghan’s coffee-free-week at her blog, For the Love of Beans!