Barbara Fish Counselling Services ... helping your life work

One Pill Makes You Larger

Helping Your Life Work

Volume 10, Issue 4

April 2014

Up until a couple of years ago, I was not a coffee drinker. Other than the occasional Iced Capp on long road trips back home, I didn’t feel the need. But as my practice grew and I found myself at the office later and later into the evening, I needed to find a solution to the heavy lids, stifled yawns and loss of concentration that I was experiencing in front of clients. So I joined the masses and started to consume the stuff. And like every other person who drinks it with any regularity, I got hooked.

At first, I noticed a quickening of my heart rate, which was somewhat troublesome, but then a general boost in energy, which I certainly appreciated. I could get more work done, keep my concentration going, and felt alert and awake even at 9:00 p.m. when I was travelling home from the office. I even enjoyed the new world that had opened up to me, sitting around the table with a steaming brew and learning the language of coffee connoisseurs when they ordered a Double Double from Tim’s or a Venti Peppermint Java Chip Frappuccino Light with Lactose Free Milk from Starbuck’s.

However, there were downsides as well. On weekend mornings, when I didn’t need to indulge in order to keep myself alert, I experienced headaches. It never developed into any type of migraine, just a kind of dull, cloudy achiness that caused my brow to furrow and left me with a desire to get back under the covers. Then I began to wake with headaches on a regular basis and until I had had my fix, they would continue. So I began to consume coffee earlier and more often and the more I consumed, (big revelation here), the more I needed and the more wide-awake I was when it was time to go to bed. And then the problem became how to get to sleep at night.

I began to feel like a Morgan Spurlock movie (“Super-Size Me”) when he decided to indulge in a month-long experiment of eating all of his meals at McDonalds. And so began my experiment with ways to keep me awake during the day and to get me to sleep at night. People were telling me that my consumption of carbohydrate might be making me tired, so I lowered my carb consumption. Others said I might be eating too late at night, so I began to eat more frequent meals during the day so I wouldn’t be so hungry when I arrived home at night. My doctor suggested I try the herbal sleep aid, Melatonin, but I found that it not only made me drowsy at night but also contributed to a feeling of lethargy that continued into the morning. Friends and family commented that ‘people of my age’ shouldn’t expect a great sleep. (I didn’t like that one so much.)

Eventually I reached the conclusion that what triggered the whole escapade in the first place was the fact that I, like most North Americans have been sleep-deprived for many years and that the solution to that dilemma would have been to get more sleep and not to begin drinking coffee. So that is what I am attempting to do now. I began to reduce my consumption about a month ago, then quit three weeks ago. The headache that began the first week eventually tapered off by the end of it. I worked at gradually moving my bedtime up, aiming to receive the 8-hour rest that I had deprived myself of for so long.

I am proud to say that I have not had a drop of caffeine for 21 days, the magic number to break a habit or begin a new one. And I must say I am feeling much better. I have not achieved the most consistent sleep habits yet, and perhaps I won’t, but I am feeling overall, more awake and refreshed than I have for a long time.

If you are thinking of making a change like this and would like some support in doing so, give me a call.

Barbara Fish, M.Ed.
Personal and Career Counsellor
“Helping Your Life Work”

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For more information, or to book an appointment at her Toronto office,
please contact Barbara by telephone at 416-498-1352 or by email at