Should Small Business Owners Loan their Bodies a Break from Caffeine?

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Our vices can often take on a love-hate dynamic when they become ingrained in our behavior. On the one hand, many small business owners can probably relate to the instant sense of relief that comes along with their first few sips of morning coffee, but many are probably also wondering if they are putting themselves at risk by consuming caffeine on a daily basis. Caffeine enjoys a relatively unique place in our culture. It is a stimulant, and when taken in large doses can potentially be dangerous, but is also widely available even to minors who cannot drink alcohol or consume tobacco products, making it the drug that the widest range of Americans are able to freely access. Whether or not caffeine consumption has a positive or negative effect on small business owners varies on a case by case basis, but in general, according to a study put out by the Cardiff School of Psychology in the UK, caffeine consumption can have positive effects when used in order to improve productivity during times when one needs a boost, and is not generally dangerous unless abused or used by individuals who are “sensitive”, such as those with anxiety disorders.

If you are going to drink caffeine, do so responsibly. While the study states that those who consume caffeine are generally able to use it in a responsible way to increase their productivity, there are a few caveats that should be addressed. For one thing, nowadays caffeine is often consumed accompanied by very high doses of sugar. Whether in the form of an energy drink or in a coffee that has been sweetened by sugar packets or the addition of flavor syrups and whipped cream, the consumption of massive amounts of sugars coinciding with a caffeine fix can magnify the detrimental effects of both compounds. Additionally, those who drink over a threshold amount which can vary depending on their body and tolerance may experience negative effects including insomnia, acid reflux, and even bone damage. Drinking two cups of coffee with milk during the day is therefore much different from drinking 4-5 cups or a sugary energy drink with the equivalent of 3 cups of coffee worth of caffeine in it.

If you feel you have a problem with caffeine, taper off with help. Although responsible caffeine use is generally accepted to be healthy, the compound is addictive, and if you feel that you have created a dependency on caffeine then your best bet is to slowly taper off your use over multiple weeks with the help of a friend who can monitor your progress. If you find that this doesn’t work, then you should seek the guidance of a medical professional.

What’s the bottom line? If you are looking for a single line to take away on whether or not you should continue to use caffeine, the answer is it depends on how you feel that it effects you. Everyone is different, and everyone will have their own opinions on whether or not they are using caffeine in a responsible way. As a rule of thumb, if you are feeling negative health effects that include losing sleep, an upset stomach or a depressed mood associated with your caffeine use, then you should seriously consider tapering off. If not, then make sure that you are not pushing your limit and separate your consumption from interfering with your sleep habits, and keep an eye on yourself going forwards to make sure your use doesn’t jump down the road.

Photo Credit to Gail on Flickr

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