Wednesday, April 11, 2012

WRITERCARE: Caffeine--Friend or Foe?

by Elizabeth Knowles Palladino

You aren’t alone if you use one of the world’s most common psychoactive substances, caffeine. Caffeine meets all the criteria for being addictive. It creates dependency, tolerance, and withdrawal symptoms if it is suddenly discontinued.

Caffeine has many effects on the body’s metabolism. In stimulating the central nervous system, it alleviates fatigue and increases wakefulness—two factors of extreme importance to most writers.

How much caffeine is safe, and how do you know if you’re getting too much? Moderate doses of two to four cups of brewed coffee a day—200 or 300 mg. of caffeine--are probably not harmful. You may want to limit your intake if you are experiencing insomnia, nervousness, restlessness, or irritability. Don’t let caffeine interfere with your need for adequate sleep. Studies continue to show that sleep deprivation causes lingering cognitive deficits—definitely not helpful for your manuscript. Consider avoiding caffeine for eight hours before bedtime.

The body does not store caffeine, but its effects do persist for many hours. As a writer you are doing a balancing act. Use caffeine appropriately for alertness and zip. Don’t let it take over and undermine your career with its negative side effects.♥

Elizabeth Knowles Palladino lives in Kingston, New York, where she works in health care and writes medieval romance.  She writes a monthly WRITERCARE column for RWANYC's newsletter.

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