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Nick’s Tip: Prolong The Effects

by Nick Vitrano

Caffeine.  From coffee to energy shots, caffeine, in varying degrees, is a staple of most our diets.  There’s no shortage of studies touting both the positive and negative effects.  In essence, it’s pretty much like anything: caffeine in moderation does not have to be bad, and might even be good.  But whatever – the purpose of this is not to sway your opinion of caffeine.  We’ll toss out a way to help you prolong its effects so that a little will go a longer way.  

Keep a log and you might be shocked at the amount of caffeine you consume in any given day.  Generally speaking, the “caffeine crash” results from an initial dose that is simply too high, more than you need to generate the effect you desire.  So as it wears off, we reach for the next dose just to maintain.  The result is a massive overdose and all the “fantastic” side effects thereof…you know, nervousness, restlessness, yada yada yada. 

It all reduces to half-life. 

On average, the half-life of a caffeine dose in the body is around 5 hours, meaning it takes about 5 hours for your cup of coffee break down to half-power.  Keep that in mind as you try to fall asleep after the evening news.  Depending on your dose, back up your bedtime target 5 or more hours to figure out when you should last consume caffeine – emphasis on “more,” as our normal dose tends to exceed 200mg (and 100mg is where many experts place the ceiling of the amount that affects sleep and mood).  

So how can you slow the breakdown of caffeine in the body?  Keep that initial dose lasting longer?  Maybe, as a result, keep you from having to reach for that second cup (or third)? 

Echinacea.

That’s right, Echinacea, regarded as an immune booster, has been shown (in some studies) to delay the body’s breakdown of caffeine, prolonging the effects of your dosage.  Here’s the key – don’t take the Echinacea with your coffee (or whatever) – take it a couple hours after you down that beverage.  I’m a big fan of Echinacea, so I don’t know if it works or not, I’ve been taking it for a number of years, so maybe it’s been helping, maybe not.  I’m not a doctor – so don’t take my word for it, but it might be worth a shot if you’re one of those: 8am, 11am, 2pm, 5pm, 8pm caffeine dose types.