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Don’t Let Anything Steal Your Holiday Joy



The holiday season is a time of joy, relaxation, and celebration. It's a time to unwind, spend quality moments with loved ones, and enjoy delicious food. However, many people desire a quick fix to stay energized and alert during the holidays. But this “pick me up” can actually sabotage your best holiday efforts. In this blog, we'll explore the ways in which America’s number one legal drug choice can affect your holiday experience and well-being.


Disrupted Sleep Patterns

During the holidays, it's not uncommon to stay up late attending parties, wrapping gifts, or simply enjoying the festive atmosphere. However, caffeine intake, even one cup of morning coffee has been shown to disrupt sleep patterns.[1] This can lead to restless nights, leaving you feeling tired and groggy the next day, which is the last thing you want during the holiday joys and festivities.

Increased Stress and Anxiety

The holiday season can be a stressful time, with the pressure to meet expectations, prepare meals, and buy gifts. While a cup of coffee or tea might offer a feeling of temporary energy boost, it can exacerbate feelings of stress and anxiety. Caffeine restricts blood flow to the brain which stimulates the production of stress hormones, which can lead to heightened levels of tension and nervousness.[2] A review published in the Journal of Clinical Psychology suggests that caffeine consumption is associated with increased anxiety, especially in individuals prone to anxiety disorders.[3]


Digestive Distress

Caffeine dulls our ability to taste sweet food and drinks, increases our desire for sweets, reduces the ability of the brain to signal “enough.” Rich holiday meals and sweet treats traditionally are part and parcel of the season which can disrupt the digestive system, but when we add caffeine, it exasperates digestive distress.[4] Caffeine increases stomach acid production, potentially leading to heartburn and gastrointestinal discomfort. A study published in the World Journal of Gastroenterology highlights how caffeine relaxes the lower esophageal sphincter, increasing the risk of acid reflux and heartburn.[5] Having caffeine onboard is therefore not super helpful for someone trying to manage inflammation, weight, or other chronic conditions.


Dehydration

Caffeine is a diuretic, meaning it can increase the frequency of urination and lead to dehydration. Dehydration can leave you feeling sluggish, tired, and may even contribute to headaches or migraines, all of which can put a damper on your holiday joy.[6] The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition notes that caffeinated beverages may lead to fluid loss and mild dehydration, which can negatively impact cognitive and physical performance.[7]

Energy Crashes

Caffeine provides a feeling of a temporary energy boost as noted above due to the adrenaline produced from a reduction in blood flow to the brain. But this energy boost is often followed by a crash in energy levels. This rollercoaster effect can leave you feeling fatigued, irritable, and with increased inflammation, making it harder to fully enjoy the holiday festivities.[8]


Caffeine intake can lead to disrupted sleep patterns, increased stress and anxiety, digestive distress, dehydration, and energy crashes, all of which can sabotage your best holiday efforts. Instead, consider alternate ways to stay energized and relaxed, such as getting enough sleep, staying hydrated, eating temperately, and practicing stress management techniques. By doing so, you can truly savor the joy of the holiday season without the negative effects of caffeine consumption or sabotaging your best holiday efforts.


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References:

[1] Drake, C. et al. (2013). Caffeine Effects on Sleep Taken 0, 3, or 6 Hours before Going to Bed. Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine.

[2] Einöther, S. J., & Giesbrecht, T. (2013). Caffeine as an attention enhancer: reviewing existing assumptions. Psychopharmacology.

[3] Simon, N. M. (2009). Generalized Anxiety Disorder and Psychiatric Comorbidities Such as Depression, Bipolar Disorder, and Substance Abuse. The Journal of Clinical Psychiatry.

[4] Cornell University (2017). “Caffeine tempers taste, triggering temptation for sweets.” Science Daily, 24 August 2017.

[5] Park, J. et al. (2013). Effects of Caffeine on the Human Body. Journal of Caffeine Research.

[6] Grand, R. J. (2007). Physiology of the Gastrointestinal Tract. Academic Press.

[7] Maughan, R. J., & Griffin, J. (2003). Caffeine ingestion and fluid balance: a review. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

[8] Nehlig, A. (2010). Is Caffeine a Cognitive Enhancer? Journal of Alzheimer's Disease.

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