Coffee is a staple of many a comms person’s working day. It was mine. But I changed things up and here’s what I have discovered.

by Darren Caveney

Anyone who knows me well will know of my love of coffee. And when I say coffee I mean the good stuff.  None of that instant fluff. Yes, yes – I’m a coffee snob. Who isn’t!

Since Covid landed I get up at 7am and the very first thing I do is go make a coffee before starting a bit of light work.

It’s a real routine now.

Funnily enough, I hadn’t ever really drank coffee until the perfect storm of being a head of comms at a very disfunctional organisation and kids arriving on the scene saw me reaching for coffee to aid me through the days and months which followed. Then I got hooked. Reliant. I used to joke that I was unemployable without coffee.

I would even make a cafetiere to take into meetings. Yes, really.

Fast forward to last year and one of the impacts of the lockdowns on me was a slightly more sedate lifestyle and much less racing around the country for work. We all moved into the online world of Teams and Zoom didn’t we.

Which left me feeling wide awake at all times of the night.

It became frustrating and I tried switching off phones and laptops earlier in the evening.

My sleep didn’t improve.

I reduced down to just one or two coffees a day.

My sleep didn’t improve.

I upped the exercise. Upped the daily steps. Went to the gym more often.

But my sleep still didn’t improve.

Then I then went down a rabbit hole of YouTube videos on poor sleep and found ‘Sleep Doctor’ Matthew Walker and his research on how caffeine destroys sleep. Matthew Walker is a scientist and professor of neuroscience and psychology at the University of California, Berkeley. So not just another opinion on social media. He’s a genuine expert.

I was already aware on the impacts of drinking coffee later in the day and avoided that but the video was revealing. It’s a recommended watch if your sleep is poor and you drink tea or coffee (spoiler alert – tea is an issue too)

There was a statement that Walker made which really stuck with me and forced me to act:

“If you aren’t getting 8 hours sleep a night on a regular basis you will die prematurely.”

Wow.

I like coffee but not that much.

So what next?

Well I wasn’t worried about anything – nothing was preying on my mind at 3am – so coffee seemed like the number one culprit.

It was the week of Comms Unplugged 2021 when I decided to drop regular coffee and switch to decaf. It was a brave move. But I really wanted to see if it could have an impact as I slept under the stars in Dorset, much to the disgust of the top fresh coffee van man in the field, James.

A couple of pals questioned the likelihood of me being able to make the switch. But when I decide to do something I do it.

24 weeks on I haven’t had a single regular coffee.

My top 4 lessons

1. Reduce gradually

I think reducing gradually is the key. I had tried to come off coffee a few years ago and went full cold turkey from the off. The resulting headaches were a bit worrying and saw me quickly heading back to my flat whites.

2. Choose the best you can

Get the best decaf you can. I asked James to make me a fresh decaf in the field and I was actually surprised how nice it tasted. I would have struggled to have spotted it in a blind tasting.

3. My performance

Was my ‘performance’ affected by the switch? There are two things I have definitely spotted. Firstly, I don’t get the same 7am pick-me-up that the first coffee of the day used to provide. But – and here’s the best outcome – I don’t get the mid-morning or early afternoon slump I used to experience before. In truth I hadn’t really noticed why the slumps happened. I thought I was just perhaps hungry. But I now think it was my body craving for more caffeine.

4. And so to sleep…

And the biggest question of all – has my sleep improved?

I would say it has yes. By around 10 or 15%.

So not a complete transformation but every little bit extra helps right, and especially after the revealing research – warning even – from the sleep doctor.

So, if any of this sounds like your (night time) world give it a try.

If I can stop drinking regular coffee anyone can 😊☕️

Darren Caveney is creator and owner of comms2point0 and creative communicators ltd

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Original source – comms2point0

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