Jetset Jitters: Kick your caffeine habit with these 3 alternatives
The radio went off on my hip and one of my coworkers chimed, “horizon on final.” That was the cue to all the ground operations that the flight was within eye sight and the crew should start prepping for an “on the ground” signal in a few minutes. As a customer service agent my hours of sleep were numbered and my energy levels seemed to be non existent at the time, so when it was go-time and the plane was “on final” I found a red-bull and a five hour energy could hold me over when we needed to be at our most efficient for an extended period. Not only did I have these two elixirs but I would come to find the most effective way to feel my own “wings” was to shotgun my redbulls followed by a quick shot of 5 hour. This horrifies me knowing I could have caused myself a freaking heart arrythmia, but I know the caffeine addiction is REAL among airline employees, because I have been there. So, let’s address how caffeine overuse can be problematic, and the alternatives that are at your fingertips.
First it is important to understand how caffeine affects your body to understand why it can cause a toll for prolonged periods of time. When ingested caffeine is absorbed through the blood stream and makes its way to the brain causing dopamine and serotonin to be released freely while adenosine your sleep receptor is blocked. This allows for you to remain awake even if you feel tired. However, as any other stimulant works, you become acclimated and tend to need more. Since the airline industry runs on a 24 hour clock, the use of caffeinated beverages is just part of the job. If you are someone who consumes a cocktail of caffeinated beverages, it’s time to take a closer look at what you’re up against.
Symptoms of caffeine over consumption include:
High Blood Pressure
Rapid Heart Rate
I also want to highlight that caffeine is not all bad. This means moderation; for caffeine this looks like less than 4 cups of coffee or 500 mg of caffeine. Which at first glance seems like it’s doable, but like I said, airline crew and ground agents are looking for a quick jolt, and energy drinks and shots or caffeine pills can come into play. So what’s all that caffeine actually add up to anyways?
One five hour and one venti brewed coffee and your toast for going over your daily recommended limit. If we use my example of when I would shotgun a redbull which we can compare to a monster energy drink, that would mean I would drink 160 mg and then 230 mg back to back. Then I would continuously drink coffee throughout the day. That pushes me over my daily amount. Also, a reminder about consistency of use. This has a prolonged effect over time, and if you find yourself consistently fatigued, agitated, and not sleeping well, then your caffeine intake may be the culprit. One of the reasons, I personally quit drinking energy drinks is because I was having irregular heart rhythms for a few minutes at a time, and I knew that they weren’t normal. I used to drink 1 or 2 bang energy drinks 5-6 days a week. I knew they weren’t the healthiest for me, but I didn’t realize that they would cause me to have a heart arrhythmia. This is actually scientifically proven.
In the Journal of the American Heart Association’s trial study article titled, “Impact of High Volume Energy Drink Consumption on Electrocardiographic and Blood Pressure Parameters: A Randomized Trial” They saw mounting evidence of prolonged Qtc rhythms which is directly linked to heart arrhythmia, therefore they concluded those who consume energy drinks and high amounts of caffeine are at greater risk for heart arrhythmia or cardiac arrest.
The Journal of the American Heart Association states, “To our knowledge, this is the largest, controlled study, indicating acute‐consumption of 32 oz of a caffeinated energy drink significantly prolongs the QTc interval when compared with placebo. According to the Food and Drug Administration, QTc prolongation is a well‐established risk factor for arrhythmias.”
I have a history in my own family of heart arrhythmia, like irregular or rapid heartbeat as well as heart attacks. This is why I quit drinking any type of energy drink or shot because symptoms are our first indicator that we need to change. This is also why I wanted to highlight alternatives to the high dose jolt, so that you can see there are options and avenues to adjust to kicking your jetset jitters.
Addicted to coffee like you wish it was hooked up to an IV
I got you! I’m not gonna say quit cold turkey, but I do recommend replacing a few cups with a kinder supplement like a mushroom coffee, that still provides natural energy without ripping through your gut all day long. You get your pick of what type of mushroom, ranging from reishi for calming and relaxing to cordyceps to keep you alert and energized, maitake, chaga and more. I get it: it sounds like some granola thing to replace your coffee with mushroom coffee but it is truly a tasty replacement and you can always add milk and honey for a twist. Four Sigmatic is one of my most favorite brands, and they already have little packages to make the on-the-go experience seamless. Take your pick of:
“Four Sigmatic mushroom coffee with chaga and lion’s mane is your go-to morning beverage to support productivity, focus, and creativity. Perfect to kickstart your morning or power through your workday at the office or at home. Drink whenever your brain needs an energizing get-it-together hug.”
“Cordyceps Coffee is so energizing because it stimulates the central nervous system and adrenal glands. Combining this with the more balanced cellular energy support of cordyceps mushroom can result in balanced stimulation while using only half of the amount of caffeine normally found in coffee!”
I’ve been using FourSigmatic products for the past few years and I am always impressed with their attention to detail and their commitment to their brand. Check them out for an awesome alternative to your black drip addiction, and use code AVIATRIX for 10% off at Checkout.
Energy Drinks make you feel like superwoman
It’s no real surprise that your energy drink love affair is in full swing with STAR shifts and RON shifts alike, making it impossible to ever be on a normal sleep schedule. Like I said, I was a strong supporter of Bang Energy, 5 Hours and Red Bulls but at what cost? If you already have trouble sleeping why add to the stress with more caffeine? Your body is already spiraling from the over consumption. What is a smooth alternative to energy drinks though? There is a multi-layer system since energy drinks tend to give you that jolt you need.
First assess your nighttime routine because it is pertinent you get eight hours of rest. Eight solid hours can greatly reduce your dependency on this stimulant to sustain you.
The other thing is you can switch over to a lesser offender, like black coffee. Stick to a regimented amount of cups so that you don’t replace one bad habit with another. However, there is another alternative that may have higher caffeine but also packs antioxidants so it still beats out energy drinks.
This alternative is matcha. Matcha often comes in powder form and is derived from the green tea family. It is made from the whole green tea leaf so it is a powerful antioxidant that is linked to lowering blood pressure, and boosts cognitive function. The antioxidants in matcha fight free radicals linked to cancer. I talk more about free radicals in my blog titled, “The Big ‘C’ Word: 3 ways cabin crew can mitigate cancer” and give you other action steps toward ridding your body of free radicals. Matcha, although a caffeinated beverage, serves a more powerful purpose because it’s antioxidant rich. It’s a much better alternative than the arrhythmia inducing energy drinks. You can also find matcha through Four Sigmatic here.
5 hour energy drinks are your go to
5 hour energy drinks may be the most potent form of energy inducing supplements on the market, but what’s the big deal? 5 hours are made up of B-vitamins which are natural energy enhancers but these B vitamins are not derived from the best sources which doesn’t necessarily mean they are doing much for you.
In a blogpost written by Everyday Health, they relate, “In addition to caffeine, 5-Hour Energy contains B12 and two other B vitamins — folic acid and niacin — that can have negative side effects when consumed in excessive amounts.”
It is important to know that these drinks can cause fatal reactions. The more sleep deprived, and juiced up with caffeine, the more likely to tax your heart. Especially if you are already genetically predisposed, meaning there is a family history of heart disease, cardiac arrest, or heart attack. Airline employees do face a higher risk, as they are a group that stays caffeinated with multiple concoctions, including coffee, energy drinks and 5 hour energy.
In an article released by Forbes titled, “What you really need to know about the safety of 5 hour energy drink” they stated,
“5-hour Energy has been cited in reports of 13 deaths; that is, 13 people who died had ingested 5-hour Energy drink at some time prior to their passing. The first death was reported on December 17, 2009, and the non-fatal reports extend back to 2005. They include typical symptoms such as dizziness, anxiety, and nausea all the way to seizures, brain hemorrhages, and heart attacks.
Monster drinks were listed in five deaths and about 35 other non-fatal adverse reactions. Rockstar was listed in 13 cases, none of which were deaths.”
So it is wise to make alternatives a part of your journey so you can stave off the effects of over consumption of caffeine. The last alternative for your 5 hour energy hang up is to make sure you are getting your B vitamins, which I touch base on in my Soar with a supplement regimen: Improve your energy with these 5 supplements. If your going to extremes with your schedule, lacking on sleep, running off of your 5 hours, feeling lethargic and fatigued chances are you’ve depleted your B vitamins. So check out my blogpost where you can find more on B complex as well as other ways to boost your energy.
Moderation is key to making sure caffeine does not become a problem for you. If you feel you have an unhealthy relationship with caffeine, these 3 strategies of mushroom coffee, matcha and B vitamins can all be beneficial to your aviation wellness, so your jetset jitters can be no more!
Stay Fit to Fly,
The Fit Aviatrix