July 17, 2011


Since becoming vegan 6 months ago in January, one thing I have noticed is that I have really cut down on caffeine. Being a full-time student in a doctoral program and working 30-35 hours a week between my job and my fellowship, I am suuuper freakin busy when school is in session. I am out of the house all day every day, and then with whatever time is left over I am supposed to study, take care of myself (food, grooming, laundry), and periodically let my friends and family know I'm still alive.

I used to run on coffee. I used to drink it just to get through each day. However in my spring semester (February through May) which was my first semester as a vegan, I only drank coffee on very long days when I hadn't had enough sleep. During the two weeks of taking final exams and finishing final papers (3-hour naps in lieu of full nights of sleep), I only had coffee less than a handful of times. After my last final exam, I stopped drinking coffee. Being able to lay off the caffeine has made me feel better, function better, and spend a lot less money.

And then I had coffee for the first time in a month.

On the July 4th weekend I was with friends who drink coffee regularly. We took a little trip to Dunkin Donuts, where I ordered a large iced coffee (black, of course), not because I was tired after having only a few hours of sleep but because I missed the taste and because it was hot outside. I should have listened to my body and not ordered such a big coffee but I was thirsty as hell and the medium iced coffee just looked so...small. That night, I woke up at 5 in the morning, restless with achy/twitching arms and shoulders, and couldn't fall back to sleep for two hours.

The next morning we took another trip to Dunkin Donuts. I decided to order an iced tea instead of coffee. Since there was a promotion that any size is $.99 (and because it was still really hot outside), of course I ordered the large iced tea. That night, I again woke up at 5 in the morning with the achy/twitching arms.

Then came the paranoid thoughts that I could possibly have a neurological disorder, or "restless arm syndrome" (Is that even a real disease? How would I live that down?).

While the only thing I can think of that would have caused restlessness is the caffeine, it's really hard for me to believe. I did not feel extra energetic from the drinks, so I don't understand how they would wake me up in the middle of the night. Regardless, from now on I am going to listen to my body and keep away from the caffeinated stuff unless I feel tired.

Are you sensitive to caffeine? Have your caffeine habits ever changed?
Do you ever experience restlessness at night? How do you handle it?

Vegan on a Shoestring

1 comment:

  1. That definitely sounds like a caffeine sensitivity to me! I am someone who has never actually felt a caffeine "buzz"; when I drink coffee, I drink it because I really love the taste, not because I need it to "wake up" or to function or anything like that. But even so, if I drink too much coffee, I get jittery & anxious, and my sleep quality is crappy. I usually only have half a cup or a cup each day, and not everyday. I don't even want it to become an "addiction," so I am mindful of how much I drink. Plus, I love tea & that is so much better for me!

    I gave up caffeine for the month of January - not for any big reason in particular; just because I wanted to see if I could, really. I felt great throughout the month (I also avoided sugar), but now that am back to drinking coffee regularly, I still feel great as long as I don't drink too much.

    That's a long answer! :)