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Caffeine dosing strategies to optimize alertness during sleep loss (wiley.com)
221 points by nickcw on June 7, 2018 | hide | past | web | favorite | 226 comments



To everyone thinking about using caffine or other drugs to combat sleep: all of the latest sleep reseach would suggest that 'optimizing alertness during sleep loss' is a fool's errand if what you want is productivity. The real goal must be to ensure you get enough sleep, not that you medicate yourself with caffine to stop your body from getting sleep signals.

Think about it this way: If prolonged sleep were not absolutely essential to your survival and health, sleep would be the biggest mistake evolution has ever made. an animal spending 1/3 of its life unaware of it's surroundings is an incredibly steep evolutionary price to pay. It should be obvious that if we evolved to do that, there would be gigantic benefits to it, considering htat there is not a single known animal with a nervous system that does not sleep (including insects!). If caffine was actually helpful at reducing your need to sleep, an animal would have evolved by now to endogenously produce caffine.

There is a substantial body of sleep literature now showing huge benefits to physical / mental performance, willpower and creativity from sleep. Don't fight it, use it.

_____________________________________________

Edit:

One statistic thats particularily compelling to me: Every year during daylight savings when everyone loses an hour of sleep, the rate of heart attacks rises by 25%. On the day of the year where everyone gains an hour of sleep, heart attacks fall by 21%. Thats the effect of gaining / losing a single hour of sleep.


This is a sound advice. I spent 10 years of my life trying to squeeze as much time awake time as I can using tons of coffee and that almost ruined my life and got me nowhere. I have managed to get some success in life once I gave up on that idea and was productive when I was feeling productive without forcing it. If I can't do anything during the day? Fine. If I feel sleepy? I go to sleep. It was important though, to wake up at the same time in the morning. I was unable to kick off the coffee addiction, but reduced it just one cup in the morning. I find coffee more difficult to quit than cigarettes.


I quit coffee for a year or two a while back. It didn't seem that hard to kick; a week or two of headaches and irritability, and then it was fine.

I picked up the habit again just because it's nice to have that warm, tasty beverage to start the day, and decaf just isn't the same. As long as you keep it to one in the morning and maybe one in the early afternoon, it's fine.


I quit tobacco about 4 years ago after using for 7 years. I agree that quitting caffeine is more difficult, but I think part of that is social. I can enjoy sharing a cup of coffee with my SO just about anywhere without any dirty looks.


Oh yes, coffee is one of the less harmful pleasures of life! I would never consider quitting it, that doesn’t mean I’d neglect sleep though.


Arguments by evolution are a bit problematic for modern-day humans. As gwern writes here: https://www.gwern.net/Melatonin

> However, we are not in a natural situation, but a profoundly unnatural one. For children in particular, Matricciani et al 2012 demonstrated a drastic fall in their sleep time over the past century, indicating that they are not in any state of nature.

But you are of course right that sleep is essential for performing optimally.


To be fair, the fact that children have undergone a drastic fall in sleep time is not a good thing, and arguably, we can see that from evolutionary reasoning. But yes, I do agree with you that applying such arguments to humans is dangerous territory.

My thinking is that evolutionary arguments should be somewhat trustworthy concerning humans and sleep because there's no evidence that we've found anything to replace sleep in humans. I think that the idea that caffeine could be an effective replacement for sleep silly because caffeine is something animals would have evolved to secrete if it was beneficial for them to do so.

That said, if we found an intervention that significantly increases people's sleep quality and efficiency or to mimic all the benefits of sleep in waking humans then yes evolutionary arguments about humans and sleep go out the window.


But sometimes you can't get enough sleep. One example is if you have a newborn baby. Ask me how I know.


Fair enough, but my comment was aimed at people trying to get less sleep in order to fit more productivity into the day. I think there are situations where one has no choice but to be sleep deprived but those are extremis situations like war and having a newborn baby.

Sleep science suggests that if we must be sleep deprived we should do everything we can to limit it. If you're the parent of a newborn, that likely means napping every chance you get to at least limit the damage you've done to your sleep through constant interurptions. Caffine will reduce the effectiveness of those naps.


I think the usual advice is to "sleep when the baby sleeps", because they actually sleep quite a lot, just not when you want them to! What I really need is an algorithm that would predict, when I put the baby down, how long I should expect her to sleep (and therefore if I should grab a nap).


have you tried just tracking the her sleeps on a spreadsheet or similar? You might see a pattern emerge.

Had friends that did this. We never did, but after 3 kids and ~7 years of pretty consistently broken nights from one or other of the kids, I sometimes wish we did.

My only other advice would be to take turns with the other parent to give each other a break. Whether it be week on/week off or night on/night off, and may involve someone sleeping in another room to get away from the disruption.

I optimistically think a good night's sleep is just around the corner. Cultivating feelings of love and patience is well worth the effort.

Having kids that don't sleep well is a special kind of torture, I can see how it would break some people.


Totally agree. Trying to shortcut sleep is to misunderstand what happens in your brain while you are asleep. Your brain uses sleep to run processes akin to garbage collection, pathway reinforcement, and wide-range association building. It's a critical step in complex problem solving. If you're working on a problem during the day, then have a good night's sleep, you will typically find it easier to think about the problem or come up with a solution the following day.


I don't know about problem solving (it's kinda hard to really experience it). But I've experienced that very regularly while playing music:

Try to learn some how to play some complex part (piano, guitar, drums, whatever) sometime in the evening. You struggle obviously, you spend a good hour trying to get it. Give up, go to sleep: the next day you're way better at playing this part than you were after one hour of non-stop training


I've heard that one of the biggest things sleep does in this area is helping you fuse together small sequences. When learning a long sequence of actions be it musical or whatever, people learn chunks of smaller sequences (ie. learning to punch in the sequence 486142041 might be broken up into 4861-4202-41 with pauses inbetween that seem impossible to train out of you. As soon as one sleeps through, people suddenly are able to rattle off the whole sequence without the pauses. This is obviously essential for music.


Good point. There is probably more evidence of sleep's role in learning than problem solving. Reflecting on what I wrote, I think I was thinking about novel problems.


  Every year during daylight savings
You mean the holiday season, when people are stressed out by family matters, eating like garbage at seasonal gatherings, shovelling the hell out of some snow drifts, scraping ice off their windshields, and fighting the weather and general sedentary living, amid cabin fever among other things?


Sorry, I should have been more clear, I was talking about the day that everyone rolls their clocks an hour forwards or backwards. On that day, you lose or gain an hour of sleep and this has measureable and extreme effects on the rate of heart attacks.


> an animal spending 1/3 of its life unaware of it's surroundings is an incredibly steep evolutionary price to pay.

Plants spend 100% of their time in that state. We only need to wake up to feed and fuck (and perform tasks to enable those things).


How much of sleeping is explained by metabolism reduction/calorie conservation?


In humans, metabolism only goes down ~35% at its very lowest point during deep sleep. In other phases of sleep, your metabolism is ~15% lower than during waking time. If sleep were for metabolic savings, it would be an incredibly inefficient way to go about it.

In some senses, wakefulness may be thought of as neurotoxic and much of whats going on during sleep is centred around repairing the damage caused by being awake.

For instance, the glial cells between your brain neurons shrink allowing your body to flush the beta amyloid from your brain with cerebral fluid. Beta-amyloid is a neurotoxic protein which causes Alzheimer's an is a byproduct of waking brain function. This explains the link between Alzheimer's and sleep deprivation.

Sleep is also the phase where short-term memories are evaluated and either discarded or integrated into long-term memory. It's also essential for your immune health and cancer prevention. Your body produces dozens of cancer cells daily, but they're killed by your immune system. After only a single night's sleep deprivation, your amount of cancer-killing immune cells plummets. This is why shift work is now classified as carcinogenic in several countries.

____________________

Edit: Just on the topic of sleep being for energy savings, did you know that during hibernation (a state actually used for energy savings), bears will actually leave their hibernating state in order to sleep? I think that fact really showcases how important sleep is and should put to rest any notion that sleep is for energy savings.


Sleep deprivation doesn’t just affect cancer. With immune suppression chronic viral infections like warts flare up after a day or two of sleep deprivation.

Allergies get worse.

Anxiety shows up more easily (in response to milder stressful stimuli), has stronger effects, and takes longer to subside.

In general cognitive function is impaired: alertness, memory, attention span, ...

The skin and hair get greasier.

...


It is amazing how long one can go on listing new, exciting ways one's body begins to fail when sleep deprived.


Probably none considering that calories are collected while awake, and there exist animals that collect calories during the night and the day.


I agree with your conclusion, but this isn't sound logic. This assumes food is never supply-limited. If it is, then it could be advantageous to lie dormant for a period to allow supply to regenerate. Imagine a farmer who plants food (ideally low maintenance food) and then hibernates until it is fully grown.


Something like human hibernation is reportedly possible for people who live isolated lives in places with tough winters (can’t remember where the article I read about this a few years ago was). It doesn’t happen in the modern world though: abundant food, many distractions, artificial lighting, climate controlled spaces, ...


Club mate is the drink of choice in the start up community in Berlin. I've made the mistake of drinking that in the evening a couple of times and regretted that at 4am by being wide awake and unproductive the next day. If you are not familiar, mate tea which this is based on contains a form of caffeine that is particularly potent. It's like drinking multiple espresso shots. Don't drink this if you have blood pressure issues.

In general, I've learned to moderate my caffeine intake and restrict myself to mornings only. The more you consume, the more you need of it to work at all, and the more likely you are to have side effects like feeling tired, having poor sleep rythm, headaches, etc.

When used in moderation it's a great tool for getting yourself productive after a lazy weekend on a monday morning. However, if you feel tired all the time, stop drinking coffee and get a few nights of good sleep in.


> "a form of caffeine that is particularly potent"

I've heard this over and over, but as far as I can tell, caffeine = caffeine = caffeine. I'm not a chemist, but I can't find any mention of any different forms -- it's C8H10N4O2. [1]

Is there any scientific evidence that alertness is related to anything but the quantity of caffeine, regardless of whether it's delivered as black tea, mate tea, coffee, pills, etc.? Assuming that the caffeine makes it into the bloodstream at the same rate?

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Caffeine


Caffeine == Caffeine

But if a Coke is ~3mg caffeine 100ml and coffee is ~40mg per 100ml, drinking 13.3 "units" of cokes will not be equivalent to 1 "unit" of coffee.

1. Timing of the intake will affect the efficacy (x mg of caffeine over 2 hours vs. 20 minutes is very different to the body)

2. Controlling for time-dependent intake (the spherical human consumed both quantities instantly), concentration of the substance affects the rate / efficiency of absorption by the body (I cannot predict for which way it will go, this stuff is complex) so the net absorbed caffeine will be different between the two substances

3. Delivery mechanisms are different: Coke is very sugary, black coffee is not and is a colloidal suspension. The local chemical environment for the caffeine within these two substances will be different. Sugar is known to affect osmosis, meanwhile who knows wtf the gunk in coffee is doing at the chemical level.

So to sum up "caffeine = caffeine = caffeine" is probably a useful rule of thumb and will get pretty far, but at the physiological/biochemical level, that is as useful as armchair pseudoscience is.

To use a possibly relatable issue: most people find consuming shots of vodka more efficacious than consuming the equivalent amount of beer by alcohol. 3 shots will probably get you more wasted than necking 3 beers


> But if a Coke is ~3mg caffeine 100ml and coffee is ~40mg per 100ml, drinking 13.3 "units" of cokes will not be equivalent to 1 "unit" of coffee.

I know it was just an example, but after looking into this earlier this year, coke and pepsi have a much higher caffeine content at 10mg/100ml and 13mg/100ml (for coke and pepsi respectively)


> To use a possibly relatable issue: most people find consuming shots of vodka more efficacious than consuming the equivalent amount of beer by alcohol. 3 shots will probably get you more wasted than necking 3 beers

But it won't, after drinking 3 beers after each other your BAC will go to the same level, just takes a little more time to get there.

Subjectively, you start feeling drunk much more quickly because the change is faster with Vodka, but your capabilities are as much impaired.


This is not true and is the nature of the discussion. Alcohol and caffeine are processed differently depending on what they are consumed with, like how the digestive cofactors in apples make it have a lower glycemic index than it's fructose content should produce. To stay with alcohol, this is easily testable. Drink five shots of vodka and see how drunk it gets you. Separately, drink five shots of vodka with honey added and you will get significantly drunker. Your liver prioritizes sugars first, so the alcohol is rapidly absorbed and takes effect instead of being processed out. You do not reach the same BAC in each case, just like drinking 5 shots in five days won't either.


I think he's saying that the beers take that much longer, and you're metabolizing the alcohol along the way.


Thanks for that explanation. That matches my experience very well. I regularly feel wired and a little anxious after coffee but almost never after Coke (keeping the caffeine consumed constant).

Though my intuition tells me that chugging three beers would get me more drunk than drinking three shots. Sigh. The things I do for science.


> chugging three beers would get me more drunk than drinking three shots

The obvious question is what you're drinking - with the rise of craft beer scene, 3 beers could easily be substantially more alcohol than 3 shots. But assuming you match alcohol volume and consumption speed, absorption rates can still vary substantially.

From what I can find, it looks like beer actually would get you (and everyone) more drunk: diluting alcohol substantially speeds up absorption, and carbonating dilute alcohol probably does also.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17720590


Yerba mate contains other stimulants as well, like red bull does. So yes caffeine = caffeine, but caffeineted drink!= caffeineted drink.


Yep, good point. Club Mate contains sugar as well.

The espresso I drink never contains sugar or milk.

The coca cola zero I drink doesn't contain sugar either.

I cannot stand the highs and lows of sugar. I notice it especially at birthday parties. I mean, its already boring... and them comes up of the sugar rush followed by a low where I start yawning and feeling sleepy. I so not wanna be there anymore at that point.

The general trick though, is dosages. You want to keep it stable when it matters, and at the end of the day wind down. Which means you do not want to drink caffeine drinks anymore in the evening.

For the rest, I can highly recommend mindfulness to help increase focus (but before I started it, I found it super annoying when someone suggested it and then I tried it myself and it didn't work out; so I am following a course on it, for people with autism). Meds can help out as well.


Red Bull does not contain any other stimulants.


OK... citation?

Their site says it contains 27g sugar/8.4 fl oz. Pretty sure sugar is a stimulant.

http://energydrink-us.redbull.com/en/ingredients-red-bull


Sugar is not a stimulant. It is a carbohydrate.


I was thinking of taurine, but apparently it's not actually a stimulant and the research is mixed as to whether the other ingredients in red bull have any additional effect to the caffeine.


I wouldn't be surprised if Yerba mate (and maybe even coffee) had some alkaloids that modulate the effect of caffeine on the body. I recently discovered that coffee contains (small amounts of) Harman and norharman, which are MAOIs and would definitely affect the effect caffeine has. (these MAOIs are also in tobacco! They enhance the addictive potential of nicotine)


Not a chemist or even a frequent caffeine user either, but from my experience you can't reduce the effect of something you take to its active principle.

For me, the same whisky has very noticeable differences in the effect and after-effect depending on how it's served / mixed.


I always assumed the line about water "opening up" whiskey was just about flavor and personal preference, but I just did a bit of looking around and apparently it might also get you drunker faster. Diluting vodka 1:1 with water apparently speeds up absorption quite a bit, so there's something physical happening, at leas tin the stomach.


> Assuming that the caffeine makes it into the bloodstream at the same rate?

That's a big if. Others have listed a few factors to consider, another example is Guaraná powder which contains a lot of fiber, thereby slowing the caffeine intake.


Yeah, but combination of ingridents might affect it. "Monster Energy" does nothing for me. I can drink it and go to sleep. Mountain Dew will keep me more alert than it, Coffee keeps me more alert than Mountain Dew, and "Gridlock" energy drink from Aldi (knockoff of Monster Energy) is almost as good as Coffee. Different people react differently. If I need to stay up at night, only Coffee or Gridlock will do the trick.


I had the same experience with the Aldi "Gridlock" energy drinks and I noticed that cans of Gridlock are labeled as containing two servings per can whereas Monster is one serving per can. Therefore I think Gridlock has approx 2x the caffiene content since both claim about 200mg / serving if I remember correctly.


It's the other chemicals in the drinks that change the feeling. Tea contains a calming chemical and red bull contains b vitamins. Either of those with caffeine causes a different type of alertness/buzz.


Apart from caffeine, yerba mate also contains the stimulants theobromine and theophylline, which makes the effects qualitatively different from only ingesting caffeine. I found yerba mate works very well as a pre-workout drink.

I think yerba mate makes me more stimulated but less "wired" than coffee. I have mainly been making tea with the actual mate leafs and not so much the sugary club mate.


yes. they metabolize differently and at different rates.

theobromine takes longer for your body to remove than caffeine. (also the main stimulant in chocolate, and the one that is bad for dogs, because they can't metabolize it).

mate has more theobromine than coffee, so it's effects should last longer. just measuring caffeine is not a good way to find out the total stimulant effect.

(see wikipedia)


"restrict myself to mornings only"

Do yourself a favour and take the next step. Stop ingesting daily and reserve coffee for sleep emergencies and medicinal purposes. Even a single daily cup of coffee is enough to build a tolerance to it.

Besides affecting alertness, caffeine is also a very effective way of increasing the potency of many drugs. For me, Advil by itself has little effect, but in combination with caffeine it works great.


I believe that is a factor of caffeine increasing blood flow, leading to quicker delivery within the body


My guess would've been CYP3A4, but you could be right.

I found a study of caffeine producing grapefruit-like inhibitory effects on some people https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5625156/


> but in combination with caffeine it works great

I recently heard about goody's when we ran a marketing campaign for them.

https://www.amazon.com/Goodys-Extra-Strength-Headache-Powder...

The nascar themed marketing was probably why i hadn't heard of it but I did end up trying it and the mixture of the two works great


That's pretty much what I do. One or two cups in the morning and I tend to skip that on weekends.


A lot of medicines have a version with caffeine to make it more efficient and prevent sleepiness.


Shout-out to Yerba Mate tea (which this drink is based on) which I got introduced to on a recent trip to Argentina and now enjoy at home now and then, thanks to Amazon (I got the special cup and special metal filter straw and everything!). It's been called a "supertea" due to its various health benefits in addition to being a CNS stimulant. I'd recommend trying it. I add a little honey, but sweetener is up to you.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yerba_mate

For reference I got this mate mug https://smile.amazon.com/gp/product/B01GJXBR94/ref=oh_aui_se... and these straws ("bombillas") https://smile.amazon.com/gp/product/B01M1N9U23/ref=oh_aui_se... (because the one that came with the mug let a bit too much tea particulate through) and am very happy with that combo.

Here's a good video on the "ritual" of making it: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-BW1-pE4XaE


What I find interesting is that people who like those mate drinks are quite brand loyal (at least in my experience).

I've tried at least 10 different brands since I had my first Club Mate 15 years ago, and I hated every single one of them. A few friends hate Club Mate and only like a single other brand.


I limit my intake because of the sugar content; but you are right. There are several club mate alternatives including bio mate, fritz mate and probably a few others that are widely available in Berlin and look and taste similar. I'm not very fussy about which I pick but I tend to prefer club mate. Like many soft drinks, a lot of the popularity is marketing driven of course. It's like pepsi vs coca cola. Always a bit disappointing when you order a coke and end up with a pepsi. For some people it's the other way around of course.


Just another data point, but for me it's the opposite. I drink mate every morning becasue its effect is softer than that of coffee.

I only drink coffee when I need extra alertness.

Meditation can also increase your hability to be alert without resorting to drinks.


> Just another data point, but for me it's the opposite. I drink mate every morning becasue its effect is softer than that of coffee.

OP is on about Club Mate. A soda drink with mate.

Its not very good for the teeth, like other soda drinks (the acid, Co2, and sugar). Furthermore, tea is bad for keeping your teeth white. But other than the latter, normal yerba mate doesn't suffer from the other downsides soda has. Normal yerba mate doesn't contain acid, Co2, and sugar.


I used to drink 1.5 litre of Club Mate per day. I was pretty hyped up, but it caused my heart to flutter in my chest every now and then.


For the Club mate fans, a decent drink I threw together one day:

   4 parts club-mate
   2 parts lemonade
   1-2 parts white rum
   Glass filled with ice
Refreshing.


This is dead end and really should be illegal to force employees to do that. I hate when companies are trying to squeeze every inch of you, just to get their sorry startup some funding to burn. If you have so much work given to do that you need to "medicate" yourself with stimulants, then you are getting shafted. I find it bizarre that such exploitation culture is allowed. Always thought that Germany has fair employment laws.


It is illegal to force a drug on your employees. IANAL, but that would go badly. That doesn't mean they can't have it available on tap, which is how they tend to do it. Lots of companies make free coffee available to their employees.

Startup founders on the other hand always have more work than time, and they need to be careful not to burn themselves out by overdoing it on the stimulants and the work.


The worst I have experienced is when there was also "unlimited" beer on tap. Founders often - practically every evening - were getting drunk in the office with other employees "brainstorming". It was a cycle - hangover in the morning, boosted awareness with coffee and red bulls every hour or so and in the evening "curing" hangover with beer. That was sick (in a negative sense).


When you get headaches, chances are you are dehydrated. I would suggest to drink a lot of water before and after drinking coffee or when you feel pain in your head. Drinking a lot of water works for me many times while enjoying too much caffeine in my body.


Is that meant to be Yerba mate auto corrected?


No, Club-Mate is a reasonably well known brand of yerba mate drink in Germany.


Ok, so it is the yerba mate was correct, but the auto correct not.

Edit, OK I see it is actually yerba mate based soft drink.



I drink club mate in late evenings every now and then and I can't notice a strong effect.


Caffeine is also linked to panic attacks, anxiety and sleep loss (and loss of quality of sleep), I would recommend staying off caffeine all together, having tried both, I by far more like working in the calmness of not having caffeine circulating in my body.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Caffeine-induced_anxiety_disor...


Wow, this is actually a thing! I thought it was just me.

As someone who used to drink a LOT of cola-cola during their teens, caffeine really fucked me up good. I only noticed I was dependant (addicted) on caffeine after a friend pointed out I only felt good again on certain days after coming back from a client where there was no cola available. I took a little bottle with me to the client and felt "normal" that day. Didn't even know it had caffeine. Had fairly bad anxiety and panic attacks at the time.

I then quit caffeine cold turkey. Couldn't even sit upright when I woke up after 2 days of not taking any.

I've now tried it on and off and noticed my anxiety / panic attacks happened out of nowhere, somewhat related to consuming caffeine. I think it happens a couple hours, sometimes a day after consumptions. Really took a couple years link it to caffeine. I've been to doctors, hospitals, psychiatrists, physical therapists, blah blah blah. It was just fucking caffeine.

If you read this and think consuming coffee or cola all day is fine see what happens when you stop taking it for just a couple days. Yeah I get it, you just use it to "boost" your energy during the day right, you're definitely not addicted, right? Yeah, headaches in the weekend are normal - everyone has them..


I regularly stop drinking caffeine for days at a time and have been unable to notice a difference. It's a shame because I was really hoping to find that my headaches had an easy solution like not drinking caffeine, but they don't appear to be correlated.


How many days at a time? I used to drink a lot of coffee on weekdays but none on weekends and didn't notice it making any difference. Stopped drinking coffee altogether and after a few days I was really noticing the difference, and it took about two weeks for the withdrawals to wear off.


Six weeks, once (mostly to prove it for conversations like this), more often something like 2-6 days. I can really take it or leave it as caffeine, but keep drinking stuff for flavor and enjoyment - if they made decaf red bull I could give up caffeine tomorrow :)


Fair enough, it does seem like different people react to it in sometimes markedly different ways so I don't disbelieve you.

(As an aside, it's an interesting problem how long is 'long enough' when proving you can go without something.)


I find it necessary to stop caffeine for 14+ days before I get to experience improved energy levels. For about 1-2 days i feel really tired after discontinuing coffee, then for the next couple weeks I feel OK but not as good as when I was drinking coffee. After a couple weeks I start feeling like I have more energy than when I’m drinking coffee daily.

I still choose to drink coffee just because I love the taste and the ritual so much. I limit myself to 1 cup in the morning daily.


The drinking of soda also strips the body of magnesium. If you're a heavy soda drinker (or coffee), try supplementing with Magnesium Glycinate and you will feel a world a difference in your calmness. https://www.iherb.com/pr/KAL-Magnesium-Glycinate-400-400-mg-...

(try to get 1000mg a day)


Could you elaborate about the headaches in the weekend? I also noticed I can not do much during the day without coffee but I never linked my headaches to caffeine.


The suspected mechanism for caffeine withdrawal headaches is that more blood is flowing to your brain than it's accustomed to [1]. Caffeine works as a vasoconstrictor, reducing cerebral blood flow (CBF) by an average of 27% across users with varying levels of dependency. [2] When you reduce or eliminate caffeine, CBF spikes, causing "weekend" headaches and migraines.

In my personal experience, weaning yourself off caffeine over the course of a couple of weeks is drastically easier than attempting to quit cold turkey. My preferred method of reducing or eliminating caffeine dependence is to reduce intake by 25% every 3-4 days. Once you're down below 50mg per day, you can switch to tea or quit without any physical side effects.

[1] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9170342 [2] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19219847


Counter-point: I once quit coffee altogether, weening myself off with tea at first. After about 3 months of total caffeine "sobriety" I hated it. I found I enjoyed myself more and was more productive with some caffeine rather than none. It did help me cut back (I went from ~8 cups a day to ~2-4).

I think the level I'm at now -- still ~2-4 cups -- is perfect. I find I'm productive and still sleep well.

Note: 2-4 cups still sounds like a lot, but I mean 1 cup = 250ml not 1 mug.


Nothing wrong with that, we are all different. I think its just important to talk about the drawbacks, especially in the software industry where coffee often is seen as some sort of fuel to do great things, while it may be the cause for all sorts of meltdowns.

If you run any type of startup/company, you are already in a very stressful position, no need to make it worse.


I was life-long anti-caffeine, except the occasional soda. Then I started drinking more and more of it as I drank more and more soda.

Eventually, I realized the soda was doing bad things to my system and got off it. I didn't drink coffee or tea, so that mean almost zero caffeine as well.

Lately, I started drinking chai twice per day at work. I've found that I'm a lot more productive and active, both at work and at home, though I do tend to get really sluggish a couple hours before bed.

I don't know drinking so much caffeine permanently altered my metabolism/body chemistry so that I need caffeine, or if it was an inevitable consequence of aging. It's weird to find that I now "need" caffeine just like everyone around me, when I definitely didn't just 10 years ago.


8 cups?! You should drink that much water - but coffee..

2-4 still seems like a lot - this is coming from someone who doesn't drink at all anymore, but before 1, maybe 2. Now I only drink if I know I need the alertness. More effective for me considering the caffeine tolerance is gone and even a little has full effect.

Why did you hate it?


It's pretty easy to hit 4 cups. Large cups of coffee are 20 fl oz which are ~570ml. So 2 larges in one day, which I have from time to time, will get you there.

I can't really explain why I hated it with complete accuracy -- I think I just felt overall less energetic. And I felt this way when I was definitely over the effects of caffeine withdrawal.


Same. I was off all caffeine for a month and I much preferred going back. However I stick to tea now and save coffee for emergencies.


I realised this after consuming two coffees a day - one in the morning and one after noon. I used to struggle with insomnia and used to sleep only by 2:00 AM frequently. After a few days of missing out my afternoon coffee, I started to notice that I felt much better and calmer. As someone who is fighting depression and anxiety, cutting off my coffee completely has helped.

I now substitute with a tea in the morning if necessary.


Reading this paper, I got a similar sense that all of this was suboptimal when compared to working towards and maintaining a healthy sleep cycle. When maintaining a healthy sleep cycle, there is no drop off in performance throughout the day, right? Or if there is, it's nothing nearly as bad as the drop off shown in even the best dosing strategies shown here, right? This paper makes the assumption that getting enough sleep simply isn't an option, but for many of us, that's not true. We choose to sleep poorly, and all of this is us trying to minimize the consequences of that poor choice.

I don't know a lot about this topic, so feel free to correct me.


It's a CNS stimulant, those are sensibly some of its side effects. I'd say moderation of use is an effective way to limit those side effects, as the pros/cons tend to change the more used to caffeine the body becomes.

There is also a genetic variation in receptors/enzyme configurations, think of it like the global options/settings. One person may react quite differently due to slight changes in the shape of their receptor due to a different genetic allele.


Fwiw: my doctor once told me that at two cups a day, he thinks it would be irrelevant. That's a bit higher than the 200 mg cited in the wikipedia page.

It definitely is a consideration if you're drinking a lot of coffee.


How about, you know, sleeping? Working in a startup isn't being parachuted behind the enemy lines where your life depends on staying alert. Go home, you'll work better tomorrow.


When I was Infantry I used a cocktail of caffeine and nicotine (usually nasal snuff, sometimes supplemented with dipping tobacco) to stay awake on extended missions. Since nicotine is a vasoconstrictor it inhibited night vision to some degree, but that was better than nodding off.

Now that I'm a professional engineer and no longer in indentured servitude I stick to an 8 hour work day, get 7-8 hours of sleep a night, and have the rest of the day to spend with the family. There's no reason in this day and age to work yourself to the point of chemical dependence if your life isn't on the line.


No nicotine for me, but I would make caffeine "dip" pouches out of the coffee packet and napkins that came with MREs. No one ever drank the coffee, so I always has multiple packets on hand.

Pour the grounds into the napkin to keep it all together, then pop it in like a plug of dip. The taste was brutal, but it got the job done.


I love goofy makeshift stuff like this. How long would one "plug" last?


Caffeine got me through maaany sleepless nights with my daughter for the first year or so. Sometimes in life you lose the luxury of choice in sleep ;-).


Been there done that, kid grew up and i started sleeping again. But that's different from not sleeping because you work 16 hour days.


I have mild ADD and tons of issues with migraines. Caffeine helps on both fronts.

Do what's best for you, personally, and not what some internet stranger thinks is the correct way to function.


I know nothing about your medical issues, but to bring up a counter-point, it's possible that your 'mild ADD' and migraines are the symptoms of insufficient sleep quantity of quality. Medicating with caffeine could be counterproductive if that's the case.


Fair point, but I get 8 hours of solid sleep a night and can drink caffeine up until I go to bed and it won't keep me awake.

I've also done sleep studies and endless 'preventative' medicines for migraines but nothing has worked so far.

Caffeine is definitely not a cure-all, and I don't want to argue that it's good to use, but it's also not fair to blanket statement and say that everyone should avoid it at all costs :)


https://www.psychologytoday.com/intl/blog/sleep-newzzz/20131...

Caffeine disrupts the quality of sleep even if you are not aware and feel like you are sleeping fine. I'm not saying this is the cause of any issues you have, but just want that to be considered.

Attention and focus have strong correlations with sleep quality. I say this as a fellow "ADD-er", and only point this out because, being in the health field, I see so many people who completely neglect proper sleep hygiene and then wonder why they feel like crap all the time. This makes me suspect that most of the population has no clue how important proper sleep is to quality of life.


> Go home, you'll work better tomorrow.

This. Things happen (emergencies, sicknesses, etc.), but if you are sleep deprived due to work more than a couple of times a year, change it! For people saying they do not have this option, go make it (choices, like rights are never given; they are taken). It might take a while, but it is worth it. If you have in demand skills but are not appreciated at your work, move. If you do not have the skills to move, acquire them, etc.


Okay c'mon, this is such a reductive response. Sometimes you have a string of sleepless nights for reasons unrelated to work. Sometimes you have young infants who are waking up to feed every hour on the hour.

Yeah if possible I will always choose a full, restful night's sleep. But if I can't for some reason, it's nice to know there are ways to mitigate this temporarily.


"Go home, you'll work better tomorrow"

If only more people had this choice.


Anecdotally, water and sugar directly affect my alertness while using caffeine. If I don't have enough water I get headaches and can't think straight. If my blood sugar is low due to not eating enough, or eating too much sugar and "crashing" then I might as well be asleep, even though I can't from the caffeine.

I may have missed it, but I don't see where they account for the diet of their test subjects.


another anecdotal story: I generally skip breakfast and lunch and do most of my eating after work. I find that the longer I fast the more I can focus, provided that I stay hydrated. I do use caffeine (almost exclusively black coffee) for alertness and appetite suppression.


IANAD (not a doctor) but just as a note of caution, I remember reading that eating one large meal a day rather than several smaller ones can have adverse consequences due to stress on the oesophageal sphincter. This study appears to come to that conclusion: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4223119/

(I'm not judging, I've been known to skip the odd meal here and there myself.)


Interesting study. I do suffer GERD symptoms, but fasting hasn't seemed to have an effect on the severity of symptoms, though

I do notice particular things CAN give me GERD more often, particularly if I eat something high in sugar on an empty stomach, especially if I've had a lot of coffee that day. I need to have "real food" in my stomach before I can do candy, donuts, etc.

This is the primary reason I started skipping breakfast. I know, I know...donuts aren't an ideal breakfast, but they're hard to resist when someone brings them in the office and you don't remind yourself that you're going to suffer from heartburn all morning if you indulge.


I've been doing this since I was in college ~ 20 years, before the fasting craze became a thing. I just didn't really ever eat breakfast, and now I only eat between the hours of 2 - 8/10ish. I experience the same effects as you described. Increased focus / awareness. Consuming plenty of liquids is definitely required though while you do it.


Although I don’t fast I do avoid sugars as much as possible and only drink black coffee or tea.


Many people are dehydrated and don't know it. First thing in the morning, I drink a bunch of water. Diet soda, tea, juice, coffee doesn't do the trick - it has to be water.


I drink a lot of tea. About 1 liter a day as a baseline, but if I do some ultrahike or something I can easily drink 3 liters a day. Sometimes for some reason it's really hard to drink my tea (e.g. I'm in a hotel that doesn't have drinkable tea), so I tried to substitute with other caffeine products. Unfortunately I couldn't find out any reliable data on the caffeine content of the tea that I drink. All the information I could find is the worthless X-5X mg caffeine/cup, usually without even defining what a cup is!

Does anyone know a better resource?

Anyway, subjectively speaking I find that all the online estimates are too low, at least for the type of tea that I drink and in the concentration I prefer.

Also, subjectively it seems that tea has a more complex psychoactive effect that either pure caffeine or coffee. If I drink enough caffeine, I can avoid the symptoms associated with caffeine withdrawal, but I don't get nowhere near as strong as an effect as I get from from tea, even if I drink a lot of caffeine. It appears tea has other stuff in it apart from caffeine.

Now when I travel I take my own tea, cup, and immersion heater with me.

As I said, I really like tea, but only good tea that properly prepared is good. What passes for tea these days, sometimes even in tea shops (!) is usually poison. An easy litmus test is this: do they use a thermometer when making green or white ea? If not, that means they use boiling water which will destroy the tea. I think most people never had good tea in their life. I strongly dislike coffee, but I somehow suspect I only drank bad coffee that was not prepared correctly, and that I would enjoy good coffee.


High- and medium grade green tea (especially the Japanese varieties) have significant amounts of L-theanine, which has its own effects and synergies with caffeine. For me, the same amount of caffeine will have me anxious and give me tunnel-vision if I get it from coffee while more euphoric and peppy if from green tea.


What should we be feeling with L-theanine?

I never found it affected me.


With good green tea that has lots of it (shaded tea, but doesn't need to be gyokuro, Sencha Momiji is my favorite, cold brewed over night, then strained in a french press), I usually feel a slow but steady rise in wakefulness and around the time where I would start to get jittery (say, like when drinking a few too many cokes), it transitions over to an incredible calm mixed with a feeling of... wideness. Like your FOV is actually expanded by a few degrees, on many levels. Close your eyes and it feels like being at peace in a kind of Zen state. But... with a little buzz, very much an eager, productive peace where things line up and you can approach them.

It's probably different for different people, but I can highly recommend trying to "get some good stuff" to see whether it can do the same for you. I wouldn't want to miss it.


This!

Another curious thing I have noted: While living in Japan I was binging on houjicha[0] (which has significantly less caffeine due to the roasting process) on late evenings so I would still be able to sleep. After several strong pots (we are talking litres of 1:1 water/leaf ration) I would often get into a different mind-space that is pretty close to what you are talking about. I tried to research if other catechins (like l-theanine) also disappear in the roasting process or if they could be the explanation, but weren't able to find anything to back this up.

0: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/H%C5%8Djicha


I haven't really taken it as a supplement/extract by itself, but drinking lots of strong green tea gives me distinct but different effect from coffee/energy drinks/caffeine pills.

It mostly seems to negate the negative effects of caffeine (apart from problems falling asleep) and gives a mood-boost and counteracting stress. It only goes so far of course, over-consumption of tea will still yield anxiety and dependence, but the threshold for this is a lot higher.


Can't help with the caffeine content, but I agree that there's a vast difference between good and bad tea. I particularly detest places that use a teabag and add milk before removing the bag.

As George Orwell put it, "the best manner of making it is the subject of violent disputes" http://www.booksatoz.com/witsend/tea/orwell.htm


What's the issue with adding the milk before removing the bag?


The tea keeps brewing, but this time in the milky water. Tea brewed in milk is noticeably different to that brewed only in water. This can be done deliberately (eg, when making Masala Chai), but it's not normal (nor, in my book, acceptable) for tea to which milk is added later.


Yeah, there is a whole subjective component to all of this that is hard to get good information on.

I am older, and drink both tea and coffee depending on mood, need for caffeine, etc.

There are some online guides that give ratios of caffeine in typical tea versus typical coffee. Of course, figuring out what "typical" is is the issue! What I've seen shows that black tea has quite a bit less caffeine per serving (bag, infuser full, etc): 1/10 to 1/5 of coffee caffeine. However, there seems to be a big difference in coffee strength! As an anecdote, I personally find little difference in caffeine between weak coffee (Dunkin Donuts regular is a good example) and a strong black tea (Tazo Awake, for example). On the other hand, Starbucks drip coffee is like getting a meth injection! Immediate symptoms: increased heartbeat, "speedy" feeling, fidgeting, etc.

Also, I hear you on water temps. At home I use an aeropress and 195 degree(F) water for coffee pressing. To me, there really is a taste difference (less bitterness, mainly) if I leave the water just below boiling, but some people don't see any difference and like their water hotter.

Experimentation seems to be the only way to get to your caffeine happy place!


Starbucks drip is absolutely crazy. I always feel awful if I drink on an empty stomach.


Here's some data from various sources regarding caffeine levels in different types of tea, and also some data about extraction:

Theanine and Caffeine Content of Infusions Prepared from Commercial Tea Samples https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4787341/

Caffeine in Tea Revisited http://teaintheancientworld.blogspot.com/2017/06/caffeine-in...

Caffeine Content in 39 Tea Samples https://www.teaguardian.com/tea-health/caffeine-content-39-t...

90% of the tea I drink is loose-leaf, and I'm sure there are definite differences between loose and tea bags, because tea bags very often have very fine almost tea "dust" instead of actual leaves, and the increased surface area makes it extract faster.

The psychoactive effects you are talking about are likely a result of L-Theanine, if I had to guess


I don't know how to calculate amounts of caffeine but regarding the differing psychoactive effects, Googling 'tea stimulants' will get you lots of info... seems the main other stimulants in tea besides caffeine are theobromine (as found in cacao/chocolate) and theophylline.


The real question isn't how much caffeine do the tea leaves contain, but how much of it migrates into the water during steeping. My understanding is that the preparation of the tea (drying process, water temperature, steeping time, first vs second infusion, etc) has as much to do with the final caffeine content as the leaves themselves.


That is interesting about the thermometer! I noticed my tea always tastes like ass if I use boiling water, so now I add a bit of cold water after it boils. What is the optimum temperature?


It depends on the tee. Most green tea advises to use 70°C water.

A good approximation of that is taking 2/3 boiling water and 1/3 tap water (if you have 10°C tap water that works out to exactly 70°C). Don't forget stirring before adding it to tea, to make sure it's well mixed.

For optimal results obviously read the packaging of your tea and use a thermometer.


We have a kettle that can be set to temperatures between 60°C and 100°C. I cannot recommend this enough.


Where can I get/try good tea? Order online? Any recommendations?


Personal anecdata, I was drinking several cups of coffee to get myself through 7 hours' driving with a full work day spliced within. I used to feel absolutely dreadful. Why am I so tired despite drinking all this coffee? I used to think. I then started limiting myself to one small coffee a day. Bingo, all symptoms gone. The coffee was making me feel far worse than I would otherwise have done as it wore off, I believe.


It's alertness effects go away after repeated use and subsequent tolerance building. The best way to use it is in moderation: decaf or no caffeine some days, caffeine other days when it is needed. Drinking it daily is common and often done out of liking/habit/addiction or some combination of those. However, the best positive effects will be seen with moderation.


"It's alertness effects go away after repeated use and subsequent tolerance building"

Link to evidence? I don't remember seeing anywhere in the literature that caffeine stops being effective when used daily and long-term, nor does it match my own experience.

Thanks!


Interesting detail: look at where they authors are working. This is military research. And I'm not surprised. The problem of having to keep soldiers alert during long phases of sleep deprivation has been around since the early days of modern warfare.


I can't find the link right now, but I remember reading a study (also funded by the military) about using sleep masks with ear plugs to improve the quality of soldier's sleep when they do have the opportunity of sleeping. Deployed soldiers frequently don't have the luxury of a regular sleep schedule. This study, combined with the other one, seems to be an effort to deal with the problems of sleep deprivation. Soldiers can get relatively good quality sleep when they can, and be alert when they must.


Yes, this didnt seem like it was useful for daily use.

48 hours without sleep isnt realistic for most cases, and I dont think these results have anything to say about daily caffeine.

Also, I think the best advice is to learn your body. I cycle caffeine every few months. 2 cups all at once before I need 5 hours of productivity.


Yea, I think the 48 hr sleep deprivation is not applicable to most people. The task also is a kind of "vigilance" task. I don't know if it applies to any kind of productive thinking. They also studied chronic sleep deprivation, maybe that would be helpful for people.


In case anyone found that study difficult to read, the optimal strategy was, over the course of 3 days, one 600mg dose after 12pm on days 2 and 3 of a 3 day string of sleep loss.


Thank you. I was thrown off because I couldn't believe I was looking at post-12pm. Those are pretty extreme circumstances.

In my own case I've been tracking caffeine use and some helpful strategies are:

- 30mg after a brief afternoon nap

- 50mg to 60mg after a long afternoon nap that resulted in grogginess

- 100mg after a terrible night's sleep and before a long meeting

- Extreme care if I have an exhaustion headache due to lack of sleep and overproduction; caffeine often triggers migraine here


12 pm is noon not midnight, in case that's what threw you off.


Of course it would. :-) Thanks! 600mg still seems crazy strong but I guess everybody's different.


Yeah, I feel like I'd have a heart attack well before that myself.


Will you point out where it says that? I really did find this paper unusually cryptic about concrete takeaways.

Table 2 suggests that to match the performance of studies 3 and 4 (done by other researchers), which each gave 600 mg of caffeine, they were able to cut the dosage down to 500 mg and 400 mg respectively. But it's not clear to me that they're recommending that as the overall optimum, and that's the only place I'm finding "600" in the paper.


Well, that works if you know you are going to have to deal with poor sleep for three days in a row.

Sadly, my sleeping problems don't have clear external factors like that so I usually don't know if I'm going to have three days of bad sleep ahead of time like that.


Genetics play an important factor. CYP1A2, one of the enzymes that metabolizes caffeine, varies by as much as 40x between individuals.

In those with a high level of the enzyme, caffeine is metabolized quickly, so they can drink coffee in the afternoon and still fall asleep. They are less likely to get anxiety from caffeine, and do not suffer from a higher risk of heart attacks with coffee consumption.

In contrast, a small amount of CYPA12 prevents caffeine from being metabolized and prolongs its effects.

[0] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/CYP1A2


My dad (in Italy) drinks his last espresso after dinner, at ~9pm, every night, and soundly falls asleep by 10:30am.

Perhaps he has a high level of CYP1A2? I am wondering if there's a cheap but effective method of measuring it.


I realise you said 'perhaps' but I have to comment on how much I dislike this kind of backwards reasoning. I used to compete in bodybuilding, and I heard arguments like this all the time. "I'm not making progress, I must have low testosterone", "I must not be metabolizing protein", etc. The number of possibilities is huge, you really can't say with any certainty what the cause is.

Most likely he just has a tolerance to caffeine from drinking it. It sounds like he drinks it all day.


May not qualify as cheap, but I believe 23andMe will tell you about the genes you've got which control your CYP1A2 levels, and predict your coffee intake accordingly.


That explains a lot. I really can't relate do other coffee drinkers describing their experience. I often drink 0.4 liter of black coffee to get rid of the late evening sleepyness when I want some hours of productive free time for gaming or programming before bed. When I try to sleep ~3h later the effects of the coffee are largely gone and I fall to sleep within 5 minutes. I guess I've got a lot of that enzyme. ;) (which is nice)


> I guess I've got a lot of that enzyme. ;) (which is nice)

You can't make an assumption like that, you have no evidence and there's many possibilities.


Trick: Boost your adrenaline by doing exercise before drinking down the caffeine.

I learned that caffeine makes adrenaline last longer by blocking it receptors in college. https://science.howstuffworks.com/caffeine4.htm

My trick is no adrenaline no caffeine effect. I would do 10 push ups or run around my car a few times and then drink down the caffeine and that changed everything.


Isn't the half-life of adrenaline like 90 seconds? Wouldn't you be a nervous wreck if it lasted much longer?


I think the parent comment is talking about the effects of adrenaline not the adrenaline dump itself.

As someone who, prior to being medicated, used to get a lot of panic attacks, I can safely say that the effects of too much adrenaline being dumped all at once is pretty inhibiting.


Will be trying this.

My only note is that none of those things seem hard for someone that works out.

What is the intensity for these things? I can do about 60 pushups before they start to get hard and run for 30 minutes.

Do you need it to be intense? Or just do some exercise?

Thanks for the tip


Just anything that is moving your heart a tiny bit. Also old man time will take that all away from you :)


> Caffeine, if safely administrated, is an effective countermeasure to mitigate impairment of alertness caused by sleep loss. This has been demonstrated in multiple laboratory and field studies for different sleep–wake schedules. However, to maximize its effectiveness, caffeine should be consumed at the right time and amount. Here, we developed an optimization algorithm to determine when and how much caffeine to consume so as to safely maximize alertness of a group of individuals for any situation

I couldn’t find the algorithm though...


They built their own tabu search algorithm (section 2.3)


How large is the search space?


there's an app, caffeine zone, that helps you find out the right time. I don't know if it based (or been updated based ) on this study. http://frankritter.com/caffeinezone/


Is there a way we can use this algorithm for personal use?


Do you stay up for 48 hours straight?

Probably not.

I think the best advice is to learn your own body. Sure there are similarities between everyone, but good caffeine habits are more important than the dosage.


What are the inputs of the algorithm?

I couldn't find it after reading the abstract and quickly scanning the first page.


https://2b-alert-web.bhsai.org/ - Implementation of previous research on this by the same people, who currently work on adding this improved model to the implementation.


I drink about a gallon of caffeinated drinks a day, sometimes more. Am I the only one?

I don't have problems sleeping, headaches, or with fatigue. I look forward to the jitters; it actually cheers me up to know that soon I'll be so intense.


~ 25% Caucasians are fast metabolisers of caffeine so can expect to not notice much of a change with standard doses. Doesn’t mean it isn’t doing it’s thing on a biochemical level (both reuptake of intracellular adenosine and driving tolerance)


I was born and raised half my life in Mexico, so I probably don’t have that trait.

I wonder if perhaps there’s something related though.


23 and me will tell you for $100


Are you the only one? No.

Will that habit do long term damage to your physical, emotional, mental, and professional health? Absolutely.

It's so common and acceptable to be physically addicted to a stimulant (caffeine) that people tend to forget they are indeed physically addicted to a stimulant. Not saying I haven't been there in the past... but wouldn't you view your habit differently if 'I'm not alive before my second cup of coffee, hehe!' was replaced with 'I need a bump of cocaine to start my day'?

I'm not implying that cocaine and caffeine are equally harmful drugs, just pointing out that physical dependence on a stimulant is NOT healthy, even if it's the norm.


Your not the only one. I drink coffee and never had sleep problems even when I drink before going to bed. I don't know why.


Good to know! I’ll start reading into it and let you know if I find anything.


Surely there’s a better drug than coffee for staying awake for a long time.


I once spent a boring Sunday afternoon researching the alternatives on Wikipedia.

As far as I could find out, they are illegal (Amphetamine), prescription-only (Modafinil) and/or very bad for your health (Methamphetamine). Amphetamine and Methamphetamine are also rather addictive and apparently quitting once you formed a habit is no fun. Ephedrine might be an alternative, but in Germany, it's prescription-only, and I did not care enough to research the possible health issues it might cause. I vaguely remember there were a few substances that sounded promising, but they were fairly new, and I could not find out anything about their possible health effects, addictive-ness, etc...

So it's either caffeine or plenty of sleep, at least for me.


Uh... I hope I dont ruin anyones life talking about the legal solution...

So I found that psudoephedrine (cold medicine) is pretty darn close to amphetamines.

Find the 12 hour, 120mg capsules. I think you get 20 pills for like 6 dollars. Basically I'd take 2 saturday morning. Wait a half hour and drink caffeine as needed through the day.

Wow. I'm talking from 5AM until 2AM I am able to work. Not just stuff I enjoy, but even the worst of work.

Gl, dont get screwed by CVS's placebo and crappy brand name psudoephedrine. Be responsible.


Pseudoephedrine is a scheduled drug, prescription only or available over the counter with various restrictions (such as e.g. showing ID) most places because it's sought after as a precursor to methamphetamine. Particularly be careful if you intend to take it over a border.


Yeah just show them your license.

I dont get it more than 1 time a month, but I have noticed that stores dont use the same database. You can go from CVS to walmart to the local pharmacy if you needed to.

But if you need more than 10 days a month of psudoephedrine, I wish I never recommended it to you.


I see a lot of Vitamin B6 being advertised for energy, is that all hype?


I don't think it's all hype, but there certainly is a lot of hype there, and most of the benefits will only come if you have a B-vitamin deficiency. Lots of people do, though, so there may be some benefit for quite a lot of people.

But on top of that, B-vitamin complex pills benefit from a lot of side-effects of high intake, including e.g. Niacin flushes and tingling effects, which I thin probably boost the perceived effect well beyond any actual effect.


The Germans used metamphetamine during World War 2. They gave it nicknames Panzerschokolade ("tank chocolate"), Stuka-Tabletten ("Stuka tablets"), Herman-Göring-Pillen, or Flieger-Marzipan ("pilot's marzipan"). It was freely available under the brand name "Pervitin" until 1941. From then on, you needed a prescription in order to purchase it.


Not just Germany, or Japan, but US Bomber pilots used Amphetamines in WW2[0], and the infantry in Vietnam[1].

[0]https://www.mitpressjournals.org/doi/10.1162/JINH_a_00212 (I could only find this abstract about US use.)

[1]https://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2016/04/the-drugs...


Not just in WW2 and Vietnam, but much more recently than that. Search "go pills" in this unfortunately Wikipedia page: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tarnak_Farm_incident



The Japanese also had similar drugs in free circulation during ww2 if I remember correctly.


Not only that, the Japanese actually invented (synthesized) Meth in 1919. source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Methamphetamine

It's still one of the most popular (if not the most popular) illegal drugs in Japan. source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Legal_status_of_methamphetamin...


From what I understood it was used by kamikaze pilots (mainly the infamous Mitsubishi A6M Zero).


Frank Whittle used Benzedrine while working on the turbojet engine, so there's that.


Did you read Blitzed by Norman Ohler?


No, why?


It's a pretty good read, mostly about the prevalence of Pervitin usage. I found it extremely worthwhile but drug discourse is my cup of tea- I tend to get a bit geeky about it.



I keep Modafinil around for emergencies. For example, after getting caught in traffic driving back from a weekend vacation and now its midnight with two hours left to go and you can feel yourself fighting to keep your eyelids open, it'll get you home safely.

However while Modafinil will keep you awake, it doesn't mitigate the downsides of being sleep deprived. At 4am you'll still be irritable, burnt out and not make good decisions. Regular sleep is really the only medicine.


I took some of that once for an overnight deployment at work. It's good stuff. No headaches like I would have got if I'd been drinking coffee all night.


I tried Modafinil for a few weeks with some friends. The alertness is quite incredible, although for me made me unable to fall asleep until dawn (even on half the lowest dose).

The others have no trouble sleeping even with large doses, but experienced some bad headaches, or personality changes ("I just want to work all day now" -- this may not be bad depending on context).

I quit the trial when I developed large purple circles on my skin. Turns out skin problems, including some medically serious ones, are a relatively common side effect.

Proceed with caution!


In my case, hydrating excessively (>3 liters per day) mitigated most of the negative side-effects. Jaw clenching still persists.

Effect attenuates with regular daily use for me, despite most research to the contrary, which leads me to believe it's caused just by plain old lack of sleep during consumption days.

Care to elaborate on the skin issues? Were they planar circles (I know, oxymoron)? And what's "large"? I could maybe correlate some skin issues of mine (up to 1cm, but majority smaller than .5 tumor-like skin bumps, mostly colorless, but some red with darker aureola) to this.


It was a while ago. About 1cm diameter, reddish-purplish. Looked very concerning, intuitively, and reminded me of the horror stories I had read about modafinil occasionally causing life-threatening skin reactions.


Yeah, I can't speak to its use for long periods, but for a one off I just felt in the zone and able to concentrate, and then when straight to sleep when finished. I don't think I took a particularly high dose.

The second time I took it was for an athletic competition to give me focus. It worked well, but I don't think it lasted the whole day.


I used to use modafinil daily and though I never got skin side effects, it ended up causing the same sort of quality-of-life-depressing dependence and tolerance issues as caffeine.


I also started getting red patches on my skin after weeks of use. There were some headaches, dry mouth, jaw clenching etc. It did improve bowel movements.


Modafinil scares me. I completely lose time and have little memory of the day - like that movie where the guy fast-forwards his life.


Nothing to be scared about. It will keep you awake but does not negate the affects from lack of sleep (which is what you're probably describing).


This is the answer. Works great with caffeine as well.


There was an article I remember from 2600 about all the various stimulants readily available at the time (1996-97), I found a text version of it: http://67.225.133.110/~gbpprorg/2600/HackHead.html I believe the original title was "Hack Your Head".

Ephedrine was an excellent stimulant, but a few people died because they didn't understand what it would do. You wouldn't feel thirsty, and it was sold as a workout supplement, so people would take it and then exercise outside in the summer and suffer severe dehydration. After that it was made illegal in the US, which is too bad because for me it was much more effective than caffeine and sold over the counter.


It's not illegal. You just need to show your ID at the pharmacy and sign the "I'm not going to make meth notice" on the screen.

Bronkaid works great as an appetite suppressant, a little energy boost without much of the caffeine jitters, and as its prescribed effect of opening up the lungs.


More effective, maybe. But caffeine is so widely used and understood that it is by far the safest and least risky. That's super valuable.


"Could we get simular results without the nasty stuff if we just get the whole base on decaf during regular operations" seems to be a plausible motivation.


There is though maybe not legally, for example the wide range of amphetamines. There has been a lot of research into this for fighter pilots[1].

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/No-go_pill


An organic wild blueberry + strawberry smoothie (no other ingredients). But that's not the point - you shouldn't stay awake for too long of a time in the first place.


Amphetamine?


Yep, the classic one being adderall but you need a prescription for that unfortunately.


My goal has been to increase protein intake and reduce my caffeine. My body and brain works better when fueled with protein. With caffeine I have to "refuel" every 30 - 60 minutes and snack on stuff but with a big protein meal I find myself not thinking of food or drink for 3 hours of hard focus.


Off topic, but...

Anyone knows what PDF renderer Wiley is using? The performance is fantastic.

Is this PDF.js?

Edit: Found it https://www.readcube.com/

Edit 2: Apparently ReadCube uses PDF.js


It should be noted that all they've done here is create a computer simulation with no controlled in vitro measurements of performance.

This does not necessarily predict real-world effects.


I've learned, after too many years - no caffeine after 10am


Anecdotal I know but since trying to eliminate refined sugar from my diet I can manage the occasional night or two without sleep pretty well, no caffeine required.


caffeine + l-theanine + picamillon. get you going steady. awake or asleep. Sleeping though is in no way replaceable. 8-9 hrs 10-6. Even fact this is mentioned here, is a bit insulting. There should be a study of how many bugs that you produce when awake but sleep deprived with/without caffeine vs well rested( no caffeine after 1pm, no food after 6pm)


>picamillon

Not legal in the US... :(


A bit off topic, but if you like good coffee, /r/coffee is a great online community.


And if you only like drugs, /r/nootropics is a great place to discuss seriously.


Is there the TLDR version of this paper?


Take a look at figures 5 and 6 - it's a bit hard to parse but you'll get a lot out of them.

There are four different scenarios presented, and each has its own optimal strategy.

In general, their optimal model uses less caffeine overall, and seems to use it in proportion to expected sleep restriction as opposed to using it widely. They cite research on the difficult in recovering from large caffeine loads as their motivation for reducing overall caffeine intake.


Its for people who stay up for 2 entire days at a time. Probably not useful IMO.


The summary on the first page?


I think he/she is asking for a more actionable summary. E.g. consume 10mg of caffeine every 4 hours from 6am till 2pm etc.


After 10 minute read here's what I get out of it:

The study is a meta study that doesn't actually test individuals but uses data from other studies that do test individuals to assess average group performance under sleep deprivation (either total or chronic restriction) using an algorithm that tries to use the other studies as inputs and predict their results to draw out patterns by finding dosing strategies that optimize performance.

The advice seems to be: reduce total caffeine amount because otherwise recovery to normal is worse, take more caffeine on days with less sleep, and less on days with more sleep, delay the dose to closer to sleep period ( otherwise your performance tanks as your approach sleep period, i.e., you only stay high for so long ), and if you can don't dose on the first and last days of your sleep restriction period, just go "natural".


exactly :-) Me(he) is asking about actionable TLDR;


Honestly guys, my opinion in this day and age is that pretty much any substance you put into your body (including water and air) can be toxic.

Some are more vital than others. We have a pretty clear need for lots of air, and a fair amount of water.

But it isn't as reasonable to think that our evolution intended or makes accomodations for caffeine intake.

Ingest at your own risk, whatever the dose. My wallet and my brain tell me to just go without it in my life.


I agree with "But it isn't as reasonable to think that our evolution intended or makes accomodations for caffeine intake." However, caffeine has been tested over generations and doesn't really have any major consequences as far as I can tell. I do think that a lifestyle where caffeine makes you more effective is probably not optimally healthy, but since when does anyone care about that.


I agree that all health decisions are a trade off between risks and benefits.

But, in sufficient dosages, caffeine can cause heart attacks, paranoia, spasms and so on. It is a neurotoxic substance.

Of course, you need to massively overdose for these things to happen. Water can be deadly if you overdose it as well. But perhaps we are missing minor damage that's occurring even with proper dosages




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