Friday, April 13, 2018

The Digital Fast - Day 3

For starters, the rules are no Internet or social media, no music or alcohol and less caffeine. The time frame is one week. The idea is to see what changes these sacrifices make to your personality.  Here are the rules in detail. On Day 1, we discovered that music is a serious distraction. On Day 2, we found that we could read long passages again. Here's what we learned yesterday.


Outside of not giving up my afternoon caffeine, yesterday was a success. At work, we went out to Pizza Port Brewing to celebrate an event, so instead of getting a beer like everyone else, I contented myself with a Diet Coke. I felt postponing the further caffeine reduction was no big deal. I had another very productive day and was better able to concentrate on complex tasks and reading. I slept much better and was better company for wife kitteh, too. Victory!

Changing the Rules on Music and Caffeine

Giving up music was crucial to discovering what was happening in my brain, but it's overkill to give it up for the entire day. Unlike political agitation sites such as Instapundit and Twitter, music doesn't have a significant emotional half-life. Turn it off and you're not still thinking about it an hour later or even five minutes later.

Rule Change: Music is OK as long as I'm not doing anything complicated. For example, driving and cooking are not mentally taxing, so they can be accompanied by tunes.

Caffeine is a catalyst for bad things later. Caffeine energizes you by squeezing your adrenal gland. It takes about 8 hours to completely metabolize the caffeine from a cup of coffee and long before that, you've run out of adrenaline. If you really overuse the stuff, the shakes come from adrenal exhaustion where there isn't enough adrenaline in your body for normal functions.

For me, I get caffeine crashes about 3 hours after I consume a cup of coffee or a Diet Coke. 3 doses a day was way too much and my body was chemically worn out by the end of the work day. Cutting down to 2 doses helped, but yesterday I discovered my evening alcohol craving was partially due to a caffeine crash.

My caffeine crashes manifest themselves in anxiety. At the end of the work day, after 2 cups of coffee and a Diet Coke, I've got stress from having way too much work to do and then I compound that with my caffeine chemical withdrawals. What's the best thing when your anxious to sooth your nerves? Alcohol! Yay for alcohol!

Err, no. The alcohol then whacks my sleep patterns and makes me poor company for wife kitteh. It's a destructive biochemical cycle that needs to be broken and left behind.

Rule Change: One cup of coffee in the morning is the limit. Even if I go through caffeine-withdrawal headaches, the Diet Coke in the afternoon has to go. Frankly, I won't miss it. It was more of a talisman than a cure. The pick-up I felt from that dose never lasted more than 30 minutes because my adrenal gland was already practically empty.

Tomorrow, I'll lay out the underlying motivations for this craziness.


ligneus said...

"I contented myself with a Diet Coke."

Terrible stuff. I heard a doctor on the radio once recommend Coke for external use only.

You'd have been better off with the beer, and it tastes better.

K T Cat said...

Yeah, I've seen that, too. Still, it's caffeine. :-)