Things I've been thinking about when I'm not thinking about other things.

I love coffee. I love the taste of it. I love the smell of it. I love the delicious wave of sheer hope it can provide at 9am on a dreary Tuesday morning, when you can’t muster the enthusiasm to take on your inbox, let alone the world. I try to limit myself to one or maybe two cups a day, and I usually succeed. Sounds fine, right? Manageable. Balanced. Healthy, even.

The problem is that I can’t sleep. Not very well, anyway - I usually wake up at least once (often twice) during the night, and then I’m wide awake around 6am, regardless of how exhausted my body is or how late I went to bed. This might sound totally unremarkable to those among you who regularly and happily function on 5-6 hours or less, but I am not among your number: Once upon a time, I slept for seven or eight hours a night without any problems, and the shift has left me feeling (and looking) pretty rough. And so I’ve started looking at other aspects of my life to find out what exactly is going on.

This much I pretty much know: About 80% of my sleeping problem is anxiety-related. That, or the byproduct of living in the exhilarating but energy-churning metropolis that is New York. The other 20% I’m (regretfully, reluctantly, sadly) blaming on the coffee. Through haphazard experimentation, I’ve come to realise that I sleep much better when I don’t have any caffeine at all; a devastating discovery for a coffee-lover like me (see above) but one that has enabled me to establish slightly better sleeping habits when I apply it to my working life.

Of course, I haven’t cut coffee entirely: I’m of the firm belief that life is too short to totally deprive yourself of the things you really love (unless we’re talking Class A drugs etc). Instead, my ‘solution’ has been to avoid coffee during the week and save it for the weekend. That way, I can make sure I'm sleeping when I really need to without denying myself the joy of an almond milk cappuccino (yep, I'm one of those obnoxious people) come Saturday morning.

Not a groundbreaking revelation, I’ll grant you, but one I wanted to share all the same. Since cutting back on caffeine during the week, I’ve found my sleeping habits to be much more consistent and my afternoon energy crashes almost gone. If you’re struggling to wind down at the end of the working day - or keep your motivation up throughout it - maybe give it a try. Just prepare yourself for the initial caffeine withdrawal depression and headaches. That bit can get really ugly.

How do you use/abuse coffee? Any thoughts on its pros and cons? Or suggestions for good alternatives? Would be interested to hear your own thoughts in the comments box below...