Reducing caffeine: One month later

Reducing my caffeine intake

Its been a month since I started reducing my caffeine intake. I thought I would take a moment to update how that has been going and what I want to do going forward. The main reason I started monitoring my caffeine intake was because I hoped it would help me sleep better. For the last month I have stuck to no more than 3 caffeinated drinks a day, so the big question is;

Has it made any difference?

It’s not a straightforward answer. On the one hand, yes I think I am feeling sleepier at bedtime because I’m not wired on caffeine. But I can’t honestly say that I’m falling asleep much easier. I wish I could be one of these people who puts their head on their pillow and goes to sleep but I’m not. I can lie awake for hours before finally dozing off and I’m such a light sleeper that little things such as sunlight or noise from outside can wake me up. When I was working and in a routine I found it much easier to get to sleep because frankly I was exhausted. At the moment I’m between jobs and until I start working again I’m not sure how much difference it will make.

Changes

After I few days I did start to get headaches and shaky hands, always at around 3pm. At the time I was trying to only drink 2 caffeinated drinks a day, when I woke up and at dinner time. First I tried moving my 2nd cup forward to 2pm. It stopped my 3pm symptoms but meant that I was feeling really shaky when I woke up in the morning. Now I have 3 cups a day and at the moment that is working for me. I can always try to reduce further later on.

Benefits

Since cutting my caffeine intake I have noticed some changes;

  • Like I said above, I do feel sleepier at bedtime. Unfortunately at the moment it isn’t having much effect on how quickly I’m falling asleep. I’m going to have to look into other ways of improving my sleep but every little helps!
  • I haven’t felt jumpy, jittery or irritable the way that I do when I’ve had too much caffeine, so that’s a big plus!
  • I haven’t been buying takeaway coffee so I’ve saved money on that over the last month.

The plan for now is to keep doing what I’ve been doing. Have you reduced your caffeine intake? Let me know in the comments.

Take care,

Hayley x

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One week later: Sleep habits

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A week ago I posted about trying to change my sleep habits. Staring at the ceiling for half of the night isn’t fun! One week later I thought I would check in and share what’s working and what isn’t.

 The first little change I made was to stop drinking caffeinated tea and coffee after 4pm. This had previously been 6pm but I recently read this article stating that caffeine stays in our system for up to 6 hours after we drink it. I’m putting that to the test so now its decaf only after 4pm. I’m not sure I’ve noticed much difference with this one to be honest. Annoyingly I haven’t been falling asleep any earlier. I’m going to change things up a bit and start drinking a cup of herbal tea before bed to see if it helps relax me. I like chamomile tea but don’t drink it very often so I’m going to slot it into my bed time routine and see if it makes a difference. I’m also going to put a drop of lavender essential oil on my pillow for the next week to see if that does anything.

I’m a light sleeper so noise and sunlight from outside easily wakes me up. I have blackout curtains but the light still keeps poking through so I rather nervously ordered myself a sleep mask. Why nervously? I don’t like having things around my head or on my face while I’m sleeping so I haven’t tried a sleep mask before. I imagined them to be restrictive and I’d heard horror stories about them giving you blurry vision the next morning from where the mask has been pressing against your eyes. That would definitely freak me out because I suffer from migraines and blurry vision is one of my early warning symptoms, that and pins and needles on my tongue (weird right?). After a bit of online searching I chose this one on Amazon from Bedtime Bliss.

My main reason for picking the Bedtime Bliss mask was the hollow eyes design. It doesn’t press on your eyelids and you can open your eyes or blink while wearing it but no light gets in as long as its pulled over your nose properly. I was surprised by how soft and comfortable it is, it doesn’t feel restrictive at all and can be adjusted at the back. My problem is that although the mask is soft and very lightweight, I’m not used to having anything on my face. Also because it takes me so long to get to sleep, I flip around a lot changing positions and often pull the mask on and off as I’m doing this. What I’ve started to do is sleep with the mask in bed next to me. When I’m in a comfortable position and feel like I’ll doze off soon, I pull the mask on. If it starts to annoy me, I take it off but keep it beside me. When the sun starts to wake me up, I pull the mask on and go straight back to sleep, which is great because it normally takes me a while to doze off again once the sun comes up. Sometimes I can wear it all night with no problems and when I am wearing it I sleep through the sunrise, result! The more I’m wearing it the more I’m getting used to it so hopefully soon I’ll be able to wear it straight through every night. It also comes in a little cloth bag with a set of earplugs. I haven’t tried those yet but might build up to it!

So to recap, there are 3 things I’m going to try for the next couple of weeks;

  1. Keep wearing the sleep mask.
  2. Drink herbal tea before bed.
  3. Put a drop of lavender oil on my pillow

Do you have any tricks for a better night sleep? Let me know in the comments.

Take care,

Hayley x

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Changing habits: Sleep

I wish I could be one of these people who puts their head on their pillow and fall straight to sleep. I’m not one of those people. At all. I can lie awake for hours before finally dozing off and I’m such a light sleeper that little things such as sunlight or noise from outside can wake me up.

The issue

At the moment is that I’m between jobs. Up until recently I was working long hours as a nanny. I lived with the family I worked for so I would work until 7/8pm, go up to my room, shower and fall asleep not long after. This kind of worked for me, I was exhausted enough to fall asleep quickly instead of staring at the ceiling for half of the night.

Long story short, I finished my time working for that family and returned home with a couple of promising interviews lined up. The plan is to get a job in a city a bit closer to home but this time renting a room in a house share so I have a better work/life balance. The promising interviews didn’t come through so I’m still at home trying to secure a job. With my routine gone, my sleep pattern has screwed up and I’m back to staring at the ceiling at 2am.

Something has to change

I’ve been reading a lot of articles about how to sleep better. They tend to all give similar advice; limit caffeine, keep the room cool and dark, no screens before bed, read, go to bed the same time every night and wake up the same time every day etc. I’ve experimented with a few of these before so I know that going to bed and waking up the same time doesn’t work for me. Not when I don’t have a job forcing me to get up at the same time every morning. When I’ve been awake at 3am and my alarm goes off at 8.30 I don’t have the will power to drag myself out of bed unless there’s somewhere I have to be. I grumpily turn the alarm off and have another hour or two.

The plan

For the last few days I’ve been using my bullet journal to track how much caffeine I’ve been drinking. I’m now down to 2/3 cups a day and I drink only decaf after 6pm. However a few of the articles I’ve read, including this one from the website sleepeducation.org states that caffeine can take up to 6 hours to leave your system so I’m going to change this to no caffeine after 4pm.

The next thing I’m going to try is a sleep mask. I have black out curtains but still get woken up by the sun poking through in the morning. I did a bit of searching on amazon and found a sleep mask with great reviews, so I bought it and will be trying it out over the next few days.

Those two steps might not sound like much but I’m hoping they will have an effect. The next thing I’m going to do is come up with an evening routine but I still need to dig into that a bit further. If anyone knows any good blog posts or tutorials for making an evening/bedtime routine, please send the links my way =)

Take care,

Hayley x

 

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Changing habits: Caffeine

We’ve all been there. Its a busy day, you’re rushed off your feet and fueled almost entirely by caffeine. Pick your poison; coffee, tea, energy drink? My personal low was gulping half a bottle of energy drink at 7.30am… the sugar rush was great for about 20 mins but it was all downhill from there. I don’t even really like energy drink so I must have been desperate. Also before anyone asks no, I wasn’t hung over but I must have been feeling particularly sleep deprived!

The problem

I can’t get going in the morning without a cup of tea, for many people its coffee but the feeling is the same, that need to drink something to wake us up. Recently I saw an article that stated that people who drink 6-8 cups a day of tea or coffee are likely to be dependent. It suddenly made me think, how many cups of tea do I drink a day? One first thing in the morning, then another when I eat breakfast. One with lunch and one with dinner obviously and usually one before bed. I thought “That’s not too bad, 5 over a whole day is nothing.” But over the next few days I started to pay more attention and realised that drinking tea with my meals was just the start.

A coffee when I’m out shopping with a friend. A cup of tea and a biscuit when I call in to see my grandparents. Every time I come home from wherever I have been, what is the first thing I do after taking my coat off? Put the kettle on. I realised that its easy to misjudge how many cups of tea or coffee we are drinking because it is so deeply ingrained into our daily routine. Normally I switch to decaf after dinner but I’m still firmly in the 6-8 cups a day bracket.

The benefits of cutting down

There are many benefits for decreasing our dependency on tea and/or coffee including:

  • Better sleep. It’s well known that caffeine messes with our sleep patterns. On an unrelated note, watch out for my next “Changing habits” post. Wonder what it could be…
  • Better mood. Too much caffeine can make us jittery, grumpy and generally moody.
  • Save money. The cost of grabbing a drink when you are out and about or on the way to the office soon adds up.

I’ve decided enough is enough so as I explained in my last post, I’m using my Bullet Journal to make a note of how many caffeinated drinks I’m having a day. I’m alternating with decaf and trying to stick to 3/4 regular cups of tea or coffee a day. I’ve been doing this for a few days and so far so good. I haven’t experienced the dreaded withdrawal symptoms. I don’t know at the moment if cutting down the way I am is going to make a big difference to my sleep pattern and mood but there’s only one way to find out. I’ll check in in a couple of weeks. Do you drink a lot of tea and coffee? Have you lowered your intake or considered it? Let me know in the comments.

Take care,

Hayley x

 

 

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First steps

Every plan has to start somewhere. The problem I have is I normally do too much, too fast and get burnt out and frustrated. In my first post I came up with a list of skills and habits that I think (and hope) will make my life easier. Now I’m trying to come up with a proper plan instead of the “flying by the seat of my pants” style I normally go with. For each goal I’m going to take a couple of little steps to get me started. At the moment I’m between jobs and once I get a job I’ll be moving to another city a couple of hours away, so it makes sense to start putting things into place now before life goes manic again. Plus in the meantime it gives me something to focus on, I’m not used to having so much spare time!

Goal 1: Learn how to plan and prep meals ahead

Once I start working again, the plan is to have work lunches and dinners ready to go. If it’s waiting for me to heat and eat, I will. Have you ever had a decision to make, not an important one, something trivial like what to wear or what to eat and felt completely overwhelmed by choice? Might just be me but sometimes making a choice is the exhausting part! If my meals are already prepped, I don’t have to think about it. “This is what I’ve prepped so this is what I’m eating”. There’s no temptation to order a takeaway or binge on something unhealthy because the quickest and easiest option is right in front of me. While I’m waiting to move I want to try out some recipes that I think would work well for meal prepping. Work out what I like and what I don’t so that when life gets crazy again I know what my favourite recipes are and how to cook them. I’ve also recently bought a soup maker. Is there anything better than a mug of hot soup on a cold autumn day? Plus if I make it myself I know exactly what is in it, so I’m going to get to grips with using that too.

Little steps:

  • Learn more about meal prepping. Read blog posts, watch videos, look through cook books and magazines.
  • Choose a few recipes and try them out. Discover what works and what doesn’t.
  • Get acquainted with my soup maker.

Goal 2: Declutter, organise clothes and make a capsule wardrobe

Lately it feels like I just have too much stuff! A couple of years ago I tried out the idea of a capsule wardrobe and it was great but when I moved away for work the habit slipped and the clothes crept back in.

Little steps:

  • Declutter room. Bin or donate anything I don’t have a use for.
  • Sort clothes. If it doesn’t fit or I haven’t worn it for over a year then it has to go.
  • Make an autumn capsule wardrobe. Box away all my summer clothes and choose what I’ll be wearing this season.

Goal 3: Get back into the habit of using a Bullet Journal

There’s a blog post about my bullet journal coming soon. I used a bullet journal every day for over a year and it was brilliant! One week at the beginning of the year I stopped, I don’t even know why but once I stopped I found it really difficult to start again. I didn’t want there to be a random gap in the dates, as silly as that sounds and the longer the gap became the harder it was to restart. So I’ve bought a new notebook and I’m starting afresh.

Little steps:

  • Set up bullet journal and get going again!

Goal 4: Make a budget and shop smarter 

This one is more in the research stage at the moment. I’m living at home while interviewing but once I secure a job and move away a budget will be essential. I’m looking for a bit of inspiration.

Little steps

  • Research! Read blogs, articles and websites to learn more about how to set myself a budget that will allow me to save for my big goal, a house deposit.

Do you give yourself little steps to work towards big goals? Let me know in the comments =)

Take care,

Hayley x

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