How Much is Too Much Coffee? Developing a Balanced Caffeine Habit

Lockdown was hard on everyone. In a time of extreme isolation and heightened anxiety from the uncertainties of the pandemic, some of us might have developed a couple of unhealthy habits in order to cope with the stress. One such habit — especially if you found yourself working from home (near the kitchen) for the first time — might have been to reach for the coffee pot a couple more times than you usually would at the office during work hours. Although a morning cuppa is one of the great pleasures of life for many people, having too much caffeine can also have a few consequences on your health. So how much coffee is too much coffee, and how do you develop a balanced caffeine habit?

Too Much Caffeine?

There are numerous studies that suggest different findings about what is considered too much caffeine for daily consumption. Some say that 400mg of caffeine is safe for most adults, but the fact that this amounts to roughly four cups (or 10 cans of fizzy drinks - yikes!) might not mean that it is a healthy choice. Other studies, like one commissioned by the FDA in the U.S, suggest that 300 mg is roughly the average people consume, along with a stern warning that 600mg per day is far too much. We’re all wired differently, but in my opinion, one or two cups of coffee a day should do the trick to give you a boost. More than that, you may start to experience a few of the negative side effects. Also keep in mind that caffeine is found in other things (not just coffee), like cacao/chocolate, supplements, energy drinks and even some teas. These should always be factored into your daily intake.

The Problem with a High Caffeine Lifestyle

Although moderate caffeine consumption is considered safe, there are some side effects to consider that might affect each of us differently. A high amount of caffeine in the bloodstream is often linked to heightened anxiety, restlessness and even tremors. It may also lead to headaches, and high blood pressure down the line. My main concern when it comes to excessive caffeine intake is the way it affects sleep patterns. As I’ve suggested in previous blogs, a healthy sleep routine can mean the difference between starting the day in top form, and dragging yourself from task to task. Avoid full zombie mode by steering clear of caffeine after lunch wherever possible, and especially a couple of hours before you go to sleep every night.

A Useful Substitute

We recently launched the healthy habits challenge here at Hello Happiest., which was designed to equip anybody wanting to develop a good morning ritual with the tools to do so. One of the goals of the five week challenge is to help individuals and couples develop what I call “food mindfulness”, in order to promote better sleep. The challenge includes simple changes and substitutes that could make a real difference to your overall caffeine intake, and ultimately how well you end up sleeping every night. It contains a couple of layers over the five week duration, but also allows you the freedom to choose what you would like to work on, and to incorporate gradual changes along the way as your body begins to react.

Developing and Nurturing Health Food Habits

On top of the challenge presenting a few healthy alternatives along the way, it’s also worth thinking about other caffeine substitutes to introduce to your day. Red cappuccino (something I’m particularly fond of with some cinnamon and honey, and because of its delicious frothiness!), low caffeine teas and others are worth looking up. Developing healthy food habits is one thing, but nurturing these habits over time will help you to build good momentum in the long run. Soon, you may experience a decrease in your anxiety levels, you could get better sleep as a whole, and you’ll be feeling bright and sparkly as you start each day with intent, mindfulness and balance.