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30-Day Caffeine and Cortisol Challenge - Result: Inconclusive

No Coffee For Me!

Well, I don't know what I learned on this issue.  No, that's not true, I learned a lot about N=1 tests.

One of the problems with N=1 testing of any kind is that it's hard to isolate all the variables one needs to have a conclusive outcome or result, and that's most certainly the case with my 30-Day Caffeine and Cortisol challenge.

I was doing well with the removal of caffeine from my diet on all fronts until last week, when I did my first shift of a week of monitoring our nightly processes for my employer.  While this wasn't supposed to be a stressful situation, it was for a couple of reasons, one of which was a change in the amount of sleep I got.

I normally get to bed around 10:00 and wake up around 5:00 or 5:30 in the morning, making my normal sleep time about 7 hours.  But as one of the processes I had to monitor finished at 10:20 PM, that meant staying up later than normal.  And not only that, it necessitated sitting in front of the computer at that time, and we've heard a number of different sources talk about how that can cause problems in falling into deep sleep (or falling asleep at all).

So the practical side of all this - the result of my caffeine-free 30 days is that I'm just tired.  And it's not because of the loss of caffeine - I did my best not to drink any but didn't quite make it to the end of the 30 days.  No, it's because of outside forces, really.  The cortisol levels in my body were higher than normal anyway, because of sleep issues.  So I wasn't playing on a level playing field the entire time.

Lesson learned: the next time I decide to do some of this N=1 testing, pick a better time to do it.  I have five-week periods where I won't have to monitor the processes and that would be a better time to do these things.  So perhaps we'll try it again after the next monitoring period.  Until then, it's back to the basics with Paleo, bearing down on better food choices, more consistent exercise, and better sleep especially!

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