Comstock's magazine 0818 - August 2018 - Page 62

n WELLNESS L ast month, I visited the dentist to get my teeth Tonya Kuhl is co-director of the f ledgling UC Davis Cof- whitened. He explained how the whitening laser fee Center, funded in 2016 with help from Peet’s Coffee to worked, quoted the price and then added, almost “do for coffee what UC Davis has done for wine,” she says, by as an afterthought, “Oh, and no coffee for five leveraging the university’s research engine to revolution- days.” ize post-harvest aspects of the industry (like storage and “What if I use a straw?” roasting). Kuhl says that coffee withdrawal comes with “No.” “mild” symptoms, characterized primarily by headaches “What if there’s lots of milk, so it’s almost white?” and fatigue. To me, this feels like calling the Titanic a “mild” “No.” boating accident. Jobs, homes and relationships come and go, but to coffee My head is pounding. I can’t focus on anything besides I have always been faithful — it had been 20 years since I’d the cups of coffee to my left and right. (Those coffee drink- gone a day without a cup. How would I survive? I Googled ers look so happy! So alive!) Whether this is because I need “coffee substitutes when teeth whitening,” and the two coffee to focus or because I want it so badly I can’t think of leading options were caffeine pills and a coffee enema. I anything else is a question I’m too groggy to answer. considered both. Study after study has shown that caffeine boosts things And then it hit me — I have a problem. If a friend told like short-term memory, reaction times and alertness. When me, “I need to take a drug every day, and without that drug, caffeine enters the bloodstream (which happens within 30 I don’t feel normal — maybe I’ll inject it minutes of consumption), it worms its anally,” I would tell him he’s an addict. way into the brain, blocks something I’m not alone in my coffee addic- called adenosine (a chemical that tion: 62 percent of American adults causes sleepiness). Coffee may even drink coffee daily, according to a 2017 save lives on this front: In 2013, scien- report from the National Coffee Associ- tists in Australia studied the patterns ation. We drink an average of two cups of a thousand truck drivers and found a day, and much of the world drinks that the coffee-drinking truckers were even more — the United States doesn’t 63 percent less likely to crash. even crack the top 20 coffee-consum- It would be nice if these withdraw- ing countries. Corporate culture is al symptoms were offset by the gains coffee culture. We take coffee breaks; from shedding coffee’s negative im- we slog through morning emails while pacts, and Kuhl points to sleeplessness caffeinating; and when we network we say, “Let’s meet for as a primary drawback. Usually I’m a fidgety sleeper, wake coffee.” It’s the fuel to the engine of cube life. up earlier than I would like and am unable to nap. Without Yet caffeine is also a drug. What are the subtle, over- coffee, I thought maybe I’d finally get a solid eight hours, yet looked ways that this drug is inf luencing our bodies? How my sleep remains unchanged. The only difference is now is it affecting our sleep, our mood and our job performance? when I awake, it’s without hope. I no longer knew life without