Why this experiment?
On the 5th of April 2021, I got married. It’s made me think more about time optimisation and energy management. You see, when I was single, it was ok for me to go into a intellectual coma with little interaction with anyone for a few days in a row. Now, I share my life with someone else. I am happy with that. In fact, I welcome and cherish it. Marriage is the ultimate exercise in self-improvement because it teaches you to be selfless.
You’re may be wondering what any of this has to do with Caffeine and Coffee. After reading Dr. Stephen Walker’s book why we sleep, I realised that caffeine could be having an adverse affect on my ability to perform deep work. Now that I am married, the time that I get to do work has been reduced dramatically which means that the value of time that I get to work deeply has increased. If a substance like Caffeine is hampering my ability to sleep and concentrate, I want to know.
I decided to quit coffee for a month to try and figure out if it’s having a negative affect on my work or sleep. After reading Why we sleep I am certain even an improvement in my sleep would improve my ability to work deeply. My hypothesis is that quitting caffeine will increase the quality of my sleep and/or my ability to work deeply.
For the last 30 days (as I write this), I have been taking a more careful approach to measuring how many cups of coffee I drink every day. I have also been wearing my sports watch during this period. The sports watch can track my sleep and my heart rate 24/7. I wanted to get a baseline month of measurement in before I quit caffeine, so I’d know for certain if quitting caffeine is actually benefiting me.
I thought it would be a great idea to track my productivity with RescueTime. But, I realised that the RescueTime productivity pulse is an unreliable metric. For starters, on more than one occasion during the baseline month I forgot to turn RescueTime on which lead to unreliable data capture. Additionally, RescueTime is pretty black and white when it comes to categorising activities. For example, if you had to watch a video tutorial on Youtube to solve a complex problem it’d count that time as “unproductive”.
I have quit caffeine before, that last time I did, I felt tired and sluggish for the first 72hrs. I also noticed that getting up to make a cup of coffee was a good excuse to take a break from work. I am going to try replace coffee with water, rooibos and going for short walks during this experiment.
What will a successful experiment look like?
I am not convinced that caffeine has an adverse affect on my work and sleep quality. But, if I am wrong, it seems like a simple change that I can make to improve my sleep and work quality. If I get to the end of this experiment and see no visible benefits to quitting caffeine, I will continue drinking large amounts of coffee.
If I do see an improvement in my sleep and work quality, then I’ll consider giving up caffeine or reducing the amount of caffeine that I consume.
This is the month proceeding this experiment where I kept drinking coffee as I usually would. I kept track of the following stats:
- Total Sleep Duration
- “Actual” Sleep [Link to polar article on this?]
- Sleep Quality (= Total Sleep / Actual Sleep)
- Cups of Coffee
- Resting Heart Rate
During the experiment month I’ll continue to keep track of the metrics above.
At the time of writing this blog, I have yet to actually do the second part of the experiment, but I’ll be posting updates below as I go:
[July 12 – Day 1] – I woke up craving coffee, as you’d expect from a caffeine addict like myself. Throughout the day I had a headache and feeling of not being able to concentrate.
[July 13 – Day 2] – Still have a headache, still feel like I can’t concentrate. Despite having 9 hours of sleep, I feel very tired.
[July 14 – Day 3] – Headache has subsided, my kidneys have started to ache. Don’t feel as tired.
[July 15 – Day 4] – Headache almost completely absent. My kidneys are incredibly sore, drinking lots of water.
[July 16 – Day 5] – This is the most normal I have felt since, quitting caffeine. Kidneys are still a bit sore. I don’t feel tired and I feel like I can concentrate again.