Sunday, 28 October 2018

Optimizing Caffeine Intake (+ Other Nootropics)

I'm sure that caffeine use is familiar to pretty much all of my viewers, being the programmers that most of you are- and of course a central tenet of programming is consuming caffeine.

However, if you're drinking caffeine daily over a long period of time, you're probably not using it as efficiently as you could be, as I found out the hard way.

So for some background, I went from drinking about 8 or 9 cups of coffee daily which is known as "fucking heart attack" quantities of caffeine intake- it'd probably work out to 600-700 milligrams of caffeine a day. I woke up every day with a tension headache and constantly had pain in my jaw from muscle tension, and developed some pretty unpleasant anxiety.

However, at some point I got really sick for a week so I couldn't drink caffeine anyway and this had the effect of showing me a level of illness (combined with caffeine withdrawals) that I'd sooner kill myself than try to experience again. But the point is that after this hard caffeine reset(well, it took a couple more weeks to get to actual normal levels) I had lost a lot of the tension and anxiety that caffeine was giving me.

So I decided fuck that I'm never getting caffeine dependence again if that's what the cold turkey withdrawals are like, and I worked out a way to drink coffee occasionally without experiencing dependence or tolerance.

You might be wondering how, and you could probably work it out with a few minutes to think about it because it's not complicated, it's literally just not drinking coffee regularly. I generally limit it to 2 times a week, distributed sporadically so as to not let my body get used to it. This has the effect of making me non caffeine dependent in day to day life, and when I do drink coffee it makes a hell of a difference to my productivity.

Quite often, the amount of work I get done doubles or even triples on days when I drink coffee because I have maximized my sensitivity to it. This also means that on days I don't drink any coffee at all, I can still do an average normal amount of work.

So that's basically my advice, get off caffeine either cold turkey(which I legitimately would not recommend if you drink as much as I used to), or taper off by recording your daily caffeine intake and slowly reducing it- for reference, there's a little under 100mg of caffeine in an average strong cup of coffee, and about 20-30mg in an average cup of black tea.

Once you're off caffeine, just use it periodically- 1 or 2 days a week seems to be a good spot for me, but it depends on how your own brain deals with caffeine. I develop dependence and tolerance remarkably quickly, but I've heard some people drink coffee 3 or even 4 days a week without developing any tolerance at all.

So what about this "other nootropics" bit I put into the title of this video? That's right, your boy's done his research into things that go a bit beyond caffeine.

Now I'm a bit shy so I'm not going to mention microdosing tiny amounts of LSD to enhance flow states and creativity.

However, as I said- I'm too shy to mention that bit, so I'll move onto my next favourite which is l-theanine. This one's a bit niche and I've never taken it in tablet form, but it's a chemical also found in black tea which reduces the jittery side effects of caffeine and increases single-track focus, so your brain's not as all over the place as it would be if you just shotgunned 5 shots of espresso. In my experience, the caffeine experience from black tea compared to coffee is very different. Black tea definitely affords much more focus and clear thought rather than the frantic feeling you can get on a lot of coffee. Plus, black tea naturally has much less caffeine than coffee so that probably plays a role. 

L-theanine is frequently taken on its own as well. A lot of people in nootropic communities consider l-theanine as an obvious frontrunner- it's really hard to build a tolerance, dependence or experience withdrawals with even high amounts of l-theanine daily. It has no real adverse effects compared to caffeine which can cause anxiety, tension, shakiness among other things.

Alright, this one isn't really a nootropic but it's a good idea. Take some damn multivitamins. Caffeine actually drains your brain's magnesium stores, meaning you're more prone to unpleasant muscle tension- which is already an unpleasant side effect of caffeine. Also, if you're not getting enough vitamin B or vitamin D, you might just feel kinda depressed or deflated and not even realize it until you start supplementing them and feeling noticeably better.

This is especially important if you're on a vegan diet, since it's quiet easy to miss out on essential B vitamins or vitamin D3- which is difficult to produce from plant sources. Everyone else feels the effects of animal products generally being supplemented with vitamin B and D before being sold to you, but unfortunately this practice is much rarer in vegan products. 

So that's about all my knowledge on this topic but I've skipped over some details. If you want to know anything else or better yet if you want to share something along these lines with me in the comments, please do! I should also note at this point that you shouldn't expect any nootropic drug to fix your productivity problems- you have to put some brain work and head thinkin into it to get anywhere with it. These should be used IN COMBINATION with other practices, like that pomodoro thing seems useful, project tracking and closing your damn social media channels while you work. Hell, even meditation can prove useful.

Thanks for watching and stay tuned for more videos wherein I, an unqualified 18 year old, gives you advice as to which mind-altering substances to use to help you achieve your goals. Goodbye!

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