Wednesday, February 8, 2012

to caffeinate or not, as a student

last semester, I began taking caffeine pills, but in a very moderated amount (so probably equivalent to people who drink soft drinks / energy drinks, e.g. 50 to 100mg a day / a quarter to half a pill, aka one cup of coffee, but only on days I reaallly needed it). I wasn't terribly bothered by the stigma of taking pills (I don't like the taste of coffee, I don't particularly like sweet soft/energy drinks, I'm too lazy to keep brewing tea, and I'm a cheap student: it's way cheaper to obtain caffeine in pill form than liquid form). However, I was hesitant due to the stigma of requiring chemicals to help my be productive (e.g. wondering if I was deficient in not being able to simply motivate myself to work harder). Also, I wanted to save my caffeine tolerance for when I really needed it.

This semester, I've decided I don't really care how I get my work done and I have no pride in independence from chemicals. Also, encouragingly:
It's not just the caffeine that needs to clear from your body-- you need to wait for your enzyme levels to return to baseline. Constistent exposure to caffeine will induce the expression of the enzyme that metabolizes caffeine (CYP 1A2) in your liver, so you'll also need to wait until the elevated levels of enzyme decrease in order for your caffeine tolerance to subside. I'm not exactly sure how long that takes (probably a couple of days)
It seems the caffeine tolerance is not lifelong permanent but rather something that can be fixed in a week or even a month.
For some people with ADD/ADHD caffeine has a calming effect and can even make them drowsy. They seem to be immune to the 'hyper' effects of caffinated substances which only last short-term.
Hmm, I've definitely fallen asleep right after a caffeine dose last semester, and I doubt at the time I had much of a caffeine tolerance but cannot be 100% certain (how fast does tolerance build up? a day? a week?). I don't have ADD though. I think. Perhaps it's partly due to how confident I am in my ability to fall sleep no matter what I try;
Studies with placebo conditions have been done to demonstrate that the effects of caffeine depend greatly on the consumer’s expectations
add/drowsiness from caffeine: Backed up by research?
"Caffeine has a tremendously wide variation in action," Regestein admits. "The people who say 'I can drink a cup of coffee right before I go to bed and go right to sleep' aren't lying." Hard biochemical research confirms the fact. Carney describes "one common strain of laboratory mouse, Jackson's Lab's SWR strain, inbred since the 1920s, who is just totally immune to the effect of caffeine: there's no dose that will excite him--not 100 milligrams per kilogram, which would be equivalent to 100 cups of coffee in a human.
After a quick search on google scholar, I don't really see any sources for caffeine effects variability in humans being linked to ADD/ADHD so I will regard it as unsubstantiated rumor.

The plan is that this semester, I'll experiment by dosing either 200 or 400 mg / day (one pill, around 2pm and 10pm) and see if that helps me stay motivated to finish all my psets. Of course, this isn't a sound experiment in any sense, since I believe I am less burnt out, more self-confident, less likely to make excuses and more motivated than the beginning of last semester. (But perhaps I was this on top of things last semester and excited, and things fell from there. I don't remember). This anecdote in particular:
I am an identical twin. Cognitively, my twin and I score the same on tests, and we largely have the same interests (algorithmic analysis, specifically, programming).
In high school, my twin (the paperwork claims twin "A"), spent a lot of time doing his math homework. Like, all of it. Sometimes, all the problems in the chapter, maybe more than once.
Of course, I took advantage of this and did ... none of it.
Fast forward to college, and although we are still performing the same on tests, the reward for his diligence becomes obvious. I struggle through Calculus 1 and 2, combinatorics, linear algebra, and proofs. He picks up a Math degree along with two others at the same time ... a year faster than I complete my degree. He picks up stats, applied math, and a few other esoteric things (like x-ray crystallography) for fun. He does fundamental work in cancer research before he graduates.
Grants open up for his PhD work, and he gets his choice of programs at different schools. I have to pay my own way for a Master's degree. He gets kicked from the GCC mailing list for posting too many bugs. I almost get kicked from graduate school because I can't keep up with the lab.
Suffice it to say, it all came down to his early time and effort actually doing his homework. Seriously. The worst part is, after putting in several months at the beginning of slogging through his Maths homework, he could do all of the problems much faster than I. So, while I toiled on the minimum set, he could hammer out the homework in minutes and be that much farther ahead.
In addition, working with very motivated people this winter break has helped lift me from my skate-through-life attitude toward not completing assignments.

I hope the breaks (weekends possibly, spring break, summer break) will give my body time to reset itself. I've also allowed for ramping for each semester -- 600mg/day for senior fall, 800mg/day for senior spring -- in case caffeine is effective but I start developing a permanent tolerance to it. I really think I'll be able to stay on <400mg/day though.

Dosing research / Safety Check
 In caffeine non-users or intermittent users, low dietary doses of caffeine (20-200 mg) generally produce positive mood effects such as increased well-being, happiness, energetic arousal, alertness, and sociability. Among daily caffeine consumers, much of the positive mood effect experienced with consumption of caffeine in the morning after overnight abstinence is due to suppression of a low grade withdrawal symptoms such as sleepiness and lethargy (see section on Caffeine Withdrawal). Large caffeine doses (200 mg or greater) may produce negative mood effects. Although generally mild and brief, these effects include increased anxiety, nervousness, jitteriness, and upset stomach. However, individual differences in sensitivity and tolerance affect the severity and likelihood of experiencing negative effects [...] high dietary doses of caffeine (200 mg or more) increase anxiety ratings and induce panic attacks in the general population. Individuals with panic and anxiety disorders are especially sensitive to the effects of caffeine [...]  High doses of caffeine (750 to 1200 mg/day spread throughout the day) administered daily, have been shown to produce "complete" tolerance (i.e., caffeine effects are no longer different from baseline or placebo) to some, but not all of the effects of caffeine.
For the rest of the general population of healthy adults, Health Canada advises a daily intake of no more than 400 mg.[46] 
Lethal dose research:
150mg / kg, 160lbs = 70kg (yes, I'm becoming more and more overweight), lethal dose = 10.5 grams. I should be safely under this.

Additional research
 the average US coffee consumption is about two cups per day, which is the equivalent of approximately 280 mg of caffeine daily. [1]
Seems on the high side to me o.o I never realized we consume so much coffee.
For adults consuming moderate amounts of coffee (3–4 cups/d providing 300–400 mg/d of caffeine), there is little evidence of health risks and some evidence of health benefits.
Okay, so my caffeine consumption isn't too crazy then, even if right now I feel amazingly less sluggish / craving sleep than normal.

Lifehacker draws on dated studies:
A 1995 study suggests that humans become tolerant to their daily dose of caffeine—whether a single soda or a serious espresso habit—somewhere between a week and 12 days. And that tolerance is pretty strong. [...] caffeine withdrawal very quickly, anywhere from 12 to 24 hours after your last use [...] you'll be over it in around 10 days
200 [to 400] mg / weekday: 2pm, [10pm]. None on weekends.
200mg seems like a sufficiently high intake compared to my normal levels (<50 mg/day all winter break / most of my life) that I should be able to determine if caffeine will help me be more productive, or if really it comes down to a self-motivation problem no chemical can fix.

to figure out:
can I measure the actual caffeine / metabolites in my blood levels for meche instrumentation 2.671 class? seems like the international sports people relied on some sort of urine test.

random copy paste from failbook
[7 Mar 2012]
TIL about cough drops and caffeine: "Menthol did approximately double the time to maximal caffeine serum concentrations, however, suggesting that menthol delays the absorption of caffeine." Hmm. Sounds like a possible stopgap for accidental extra caffeine. Except this was wrt 100mg of menthol and 200mg of caffeine and the average cough drop ~8mg of menthol.(

[7 Mar 2012]
hmm. caffeine in pill form, at 12g ~$0.23 / g (price seems to have gone up since october 2011). caffeine in powder form, at .5kg ~$0.06 /g. >> to investigate: shelf-life and personal consumption rate, but I bet it's not worth it.

[14 Dec 2011]

Nancy R. Ouyang I've input about as much caffeine over the last 48 hours as previously over the entire semester. CHEMICALS, WHY DO YOU FAIL AT KEEPING ME AWAKE ;____;
December 14, 2011 at 5:16am · Like

A strongly recommend making your plane to signal spacing much wider
December 14, 2011 at 5:22am · Like

B Appendix 1 to caffeine tips:
* Caffeine can only do so much to override sleepiness before fatigue takes over and kicks you in the face.
* By "face" I mean consciousness.
* The solution is NOT stronger stimulants. Remember, awake != functional.
December 14, 2011 at 3:43pm · Like

Nancy R. Ouyang oh, no worries, i get demotivated and fall asleep long before i stop being functional. derp! :D but thanks.

Nancy R. Ouyang
ugh, 5 different labs to split my time between. 6.131 (9-23, and the one that edges me into overstressed-land), 2.008 (7-16), mas.863 (anytime), MITERS (anytime), UROP (set times). I think it's time to investigate caffeine pills so I can tip the scales in favor of building things 24/7 (vs indulging my love of napping) because now I actually have infinity projects to work on.
Like ·  · October 25, 2011 at 12:20am


* Cut pills in two. 200mg is a fairly high amount for one dose and you'll feel better (read: less jitter) with an extended dose over time.
* Combine with aspirin or an NSAID (like ibuprofen) for slight synergistic effects.
* LD50 is roughly 150mg/kg body mass. That said, watch your dosage. Heart palpitations suck.
* Being awake != being functional.
* Amazon Prime is your best friend for instant gratification.
October 25, 2011 at 1:54am · Like ·  1

No comments:

Post a Comment