Sometimes we just snap. Something triggers us, and we lose it.
Maybe your coworker interrupts you right in the middle of a good thought. Maybe your boss sends you a terse email. Maybe your kid asks you the same question repeatedly. Maybe your roommate nags you to do a chore you forgot about.
Are these interruptions and inconveniences annoying?
Of course they are.
But are they really enough to make us lose control of our emotions? It’s as if we’re suddenly ready to throw down, when just moments before, we felt completely fine.
If you can relate, there may be a simple trigger causing your overreactions: caffeine.
I know it’s a touchy subject. Many of us can’t get out of the door in the morning without a cup-o-joe.
Take a deep breath — I’m NOT asking anyone to give up their morning coffee. I am suggesting we get our caffeine intake under control.
Caffeine stimulates the “fight or flight” hormone. This is great… if a sabretooth tiger is chasing you on your way to work. Otherwise, that triple-shot latte you drink before your meeting may prompt some negative reactions when someone says something stupid.
It’s not that you can’t have caffeine at all, but you need to understand its influence — both in the moment and long-term.
Long-term, we see side effect like this:
But in the moment, caffeine makes us quick-tempered and reactive. We stop thinking logically and let our emotions take control.
Caffeine also affects our sleep — which we need in order to function at our best. Caffeine has a really long half-life. Its six-hour half-life means it takes 24 hours for caffeine to no longer be biologically active in your system. Every six hours, only half of it disappears.
So, at 2:00 pm, you still have half of your morning caffeine running through your veins. At 8:00 pm, you still have 25% caffeine working.
Maybe your morning coffee isn’t a big deal for your sleep, but think about those late afternoon caffeine pick-me-ups. A caffeinated drink at 4:00 pm means 50% of that caffeine is still in your system at 10:00 pm when it’s time for bed. And your body has to keep fighting it all night to stay asleep.
Are you one of these people who can drink black coffee then go straight to bed?
Well, you may be sleeping, but you’re not getting the quality of sleep you need. Caffeine keeps your body from entering the deep REM sleep you need to fully rest, recuperate, process emotions, and mentally declutter before the next day.
And without good, deep sleep, we can’t expect ourselves to wake up with the self-control, mental clarity, and logical processes we need to function well the next day.
My advice? Understand how caffeine affects your behaviour and steer clear after noon. That allows enough of it to leave your system so you can get the high quality sleep you need.
Then, you can show up for work the next day sufficiently rested, calm, and ready to have those crucial conversations.