One of my all-time favorite routines is making a smooth cup of aroma-filled coffee. Ever since I was working the opening hours at the gym when I would come home from college, I enjoyed the way the caffeine made me feel; I had energy, more focus, and had an easier time in the freezing Illinois winters waking at 4am. I was never a huge fan of anything else but black coffee, simple Americanos, and some righteous cold brew (nitro is my new treat). I was even a barista for a while… Free coffee? OKAY! I simply love the taste of the bean-infused water; it’s like a long-time friendly hug that explodes in my mouth.
Too much? According to the National Coffee Association, 62% of Americans drink coffee every morning (that was 2017, I can only imagine it will keep growing). Starbucks lines are rarely short and coffee shops continue to pop up on every block. I obviously love my coffee and have taste buds that agree with me! However, when does it become a routine that just covers up how we truly feel? Is the caffeine just a shield to block the heavy, sluggish, achy feelings we have upon waking?
What would we do without our morning buzz?
Imagine excluding coffee from your day; maybe you would be a little more tired than normal or have a slower workout. Wake up day 2. No coffee again. A little grouchy, a headache starting to pound, and a rough drive to work. Appetite is out of control. Day 3. Can you still get through? If you are constantly struggling to keep focus and keep your eyes open when you wake up, maybe there’s something deeper going on. Is your coffee serving you as a band-aid to what’s really occurring inside? Maybe so.
Although coffee has become a part of our accepted American routine, caffeine must also be checked as a part of our mental and emotional balance. Yes, there are many benefits that come along with these brown little beans (especially organic!), but if you can’t survive one week without it, you may want to address the underlying issue.
There are many factors that contribute to sleepiness (late nights, family priorities, jobs…), so take into account what you have full control over. In Chinese Medicine, stress is easily accumulated in our liver, which impacts other areas, such as our sleep, digestion, emotional well-being, and pain level. If our liver can’t properly rest to get ready to help move when it’s supposed to, you might find yourself waking between 1am-3am. Tense and tight when you wake up? So is your liver. Road rage after missing the one stoplight that backs up traffic? You guessed it, your liver is also mad. The bitter taste of coffee loves to stimulate your liver; this is why initially, it feels so good upon that first sip… it can calm us down, move stuck emotions/pains, and help us poop (the liver helps to move things, if you haven’t caught on).
Just like anything else, caffeine has downsides when consumed in excess (Venti coffee, anyone?). Coffee is a diuretic which can cause us to become more internally dry. The liver does not like to be dry! It needs to be nourished to help our digestion. When our body doesn’t have enough natural energy to keep us moving strongly throughout the day, coffee can make it worse, depleting us further, and scattering our energy (anxiousness, heart flutters, loose stools…).
Coffee has a warming energetic effect (even if you get your drink cold, the coffee bean is energetically warm), so it can make hot flashes, night sweats, and dizziness worse. Pair that with a glass of wine at night and your body is in a continual cycle of fluid depletion and uncontrolled internal fire!
Caffeine stays in our body for 24 hours.
I would be a hypocrite if I said no one should drink coffee. You don’t have to quit, but just take a look at why you are drinking it.
Take a few days off here and there and let yourself listen to your body. What’s it craving? Rest. Nutritious Foods. Less screen stimulation. More stretching. An epsom salt bath. Open communication with your partner. Music without words.
Whatever it may be, just be aware. After all, coffee reached the new world in the 18th century… I don’t think it’s going anywhere.