Lupus and Coffee: Where do I stand on caffeine?

I thought I had my stance on caffeine locked down: poor stand in for valuable sleep, can be detrimental to clear thinking, and brings unpleasant jittery side effect.

But this multi-tasking, busy mother of two teens and small business owner who is forever short on time...isn't so sure now. 

Know that I've never been a caffeine drinker. I had the occasional caffeinated soda or cup of coffee in college, but never got used to the sweaty palms or restless feeling caffeine gave me. So I avoided the stimulant and always chose decaf - herbal tea mostly, but coffee and sodas, too. 

Even in my worst bouts of debilitating lupus fatigue, I never turned to caffeine for help. I had enough trouble sleeping while on prednisone that I didn't want to complicate things. I've even done multiple posts about caffeine and why I don't drink it. When I went back and read this old post here, in particular, I remembered what a strong case I'd built for not drinking caffeine. 

Until recently. 

My two girls have adopted the latest teen trend of seeking out a chain coffee shop wherever we go. Chai tea this, bubble tea that. If it's creamy and frothy with two pumps of white chocolate whatever, they're in. I've concluded that the sweet drinks have too much sugar and creamer (that's another other post entirely), but I really don't like over-paying for herbal tea. So I've been getting a latte, cappuccino, or americano with a splash of cream. I started out asking for decaf...but my order has slowly morphed into regular, fully caffeinated coffee. 

Uh oh. 

Interestingly, gone are the sweaty palms and jittery feelings of years ago. But, hello to energy boosts and eyes wide open! The first day I ordered regular, the girls and I left the coffee shop, and I promptly drove next door to the gas station, where we vacuumed out the entire car. Next stop? Lowes, to get interior car wipes. And then we proceeded to wipe the whole interior down in the parking lot. Boy, mama was on fire!  Car overhaul, check. And it wasn't even on the day's agenda. 

One cup of Joe and this gal got a jolt I never knew I needed.  

Now - I know a cup of delicious, steaming hot coffee enjoyed with my girls is a poor stand in for a sufficient nap. I know it's a dangerous habit to get into the habit of, or come to rely on. But it's hard to pass up. 

Does it take the place of my nap entirely? No. 

Does it reduce the desperate need for a nap? Sometimes. 

Does it give me the pep I need when my nap has been cut short for whatever reason? You bet. 

In fact, part of this blog post was composed after an 8am cup of half-caf coffee, that then allowed me to shorten my nap, finish the post, and still arrive early for carpool. Is that sooo bad? Am I inviting trouble? 

The question is: how much daytime sleep do I need to stay healthy, and how much fatigue am I masking with my cup of coffee? Will that masking hinder me in the long run? Will the fatigue build? Will a flare ensue? Will I get addicted to the caffeine and not want to function without it? 

I'm going to have to keep you posted on all of the above. I need to go take a nap. Or refill my coffee cup. 


Popular Posts