What’s the right amount of caffeine to focus and what can you pair it with to help?

I’ve been experimenting with my coffee routine since I started drinking it when I was 14. But lately, I’ve discovered that not all caffeine is created equally. I’ve started drinking Phocus – a delicious, sparkling water with caffeine from tea and the amino acid L-theanine, instead of drinking my second cup of coffee. I still start my day with a cup of coffee – because I really like the ritual – and I have a Phocus between noon and 2 pm. 

Here’s why I’ve been changing it up: You know that feeling – I would say it’s more likely to be on a Monday, but it’s not specific to Mondays – when you wake up feeling awful. So you drag yourself to your coffee machine and chug a cup of coffee. You feel OK, but not good after that first cup, so you drink a second cup. You feel good, but not great after the second cup. 

You think to yourself, “Do I drink a third cup of coffee and figure out if I have it in me to feel great today?”

You, without fail, drink the third cup of coffee, you never want to taste or smell coffee again. You feel sick, jittery, anxious, tired, but also so, so awake.

That’s me one day a week.

Caffeine is awesome –  to a point. 

When consumed in coffee, caffeine has, to put it scientifically, no chill. It’s absorbed rapidly through the GI tract and has an equally rapid effect on the cardiovascular, respiratory, renal, and nervous systems.

Some of it is good. Too much of it is terrible. Here’s why, according to the Harvard School of Public Health, “Low to moderate doses of caffeine (50–300 mg) may cause increased alertness, energy, and ability to concentrate, while higher doses may have negative effects such as anxiety, restlessness, insomnia, and increased heart rate.”

There’s this principle that’s widely talked about in tech circles, called the Ballmer Peak. Let me explain. Steve Ballmer of Microsoft held that when solving creative problems, there was a non-0 sum of alcohol that helped, but only to a point. After that point, there was a diminishing return. Read: a little bit of booze helped loosen up people trying to solve a problem.

With caffeine, that peak can be the difference between a focused morning, or a morning spent wondering if your hand is actually vibrating.

And to make matters more complicated, this *peak* is different for each human. Depending on how quickly you metabolize caffeine and your tolerance of the substance, the amount of caffeine that is helpful to you is wildly different from the amount of caffeine that’s helpful to me. 

What does caffeine do to you and why?

I can and will go on a tangent about caffeine and sleep if you see me in the wild. After Reading the book Why We Sleep, I felt like I had a whole new understanding of caffeine metabolism and how it actually works on your nervous system. 

Here’s a short synopsis: In your brain, a substance called adenosine is created throughout the day, which helps signal to your nervous system that it should recover, slow down and sleep. There are specific receptors for this substance on your nerves – consider adenosine a round peg and the receptors a round hole. Caffeine – an outside substance – is able to bind to the same receptors as adenosine – so for this thought experiment, it’s a round peg too. The effect of caffeine, though, is quite different from adenosine: instead of slowing your nerves and cells down and helping them to relax, it sends the opposite message: “speed up! Don’t you dare relax!” More on that from How Stuff Works. And while caffeine is in your system, it blocks the uptake of adenosine, until most of the caffeine you’ve consumed is cleared out of your body. 

That means it keeps you awake, until it wears off – at which point a flood of adenosine is able to access your receptors. Welcome to a caffeine crash.

Caffeine + L-Theanine = ️❤️

You know how you have that one friend who “only drinks tea” and they’ve been telling you about it forever? Remember how they say that they feel really great and don’t have jitters with tea? 

They’ve been right this entire time. You can send them a text with a link to this study if you want to tell them, “you were right and I was wrong.”

Green tea is packed with a substance called L-Theanine (there it is again), along with naturally-occurring caffeine. And together, those substances seem to help reduce the jittery, anxiety-heavy side effects of caffeine. 

L-theanine has been showing up everywhere – from supplements and drinks aimed at anxiety to those aimed at sleep. Why? In recent studies, it’s been shown that L-Theanine has an anti-stress effect on those taking it and some studies have even suggested that it can have an antidepressant effect. If you’re thinking these two substances together would cancel each other out – it’s actually the opposite. They work together to improve both attention and work performance.

That’s why Phocus carefully chose the amount and type of caffeine in its delicious sparkling waters. To help you actually focus, instead of getting past the productive point on the caffeine peak. 

Ready to try Phocus for yourself?

Get Phocus now! It’s packed with L-Theanine and 75 mg of caffeine from tea! Use code ASWEATLIFE on drinkphocus.com to get any 12pack for $12. One time use only!

[Giveaway closed] And enter for a chance to win!

In partnership with Phocus, we’re giving one lucky winner an insane prize pack. Enter for a chance to win a year of Phocus – that’s two 12-packs delivered to you each month – and a Mirror By Lululemon. That’s over $2,500+ in prizes!

Eat Live Nutrients & Supplements Partner

About Jeana Anderson Cohen

Jeana Anderson Cohen is the founder and CEO of asweatlife.com a premiere wellness media destination that creates content and community to help womxn live better lives and achieve their goals. Before founding health-focused companies Jeana earned a degree in Journalism from the University of Wisconsin-Madison - and fresh out of college she worked on the '08 Obama campaign in Michigan. From there, she created and executed social media strategies for brands. aSweatLife fuses her experience in building community and her passion for wellness. You can find Jeana leading the team at aSweatLife, trying to join a book club, and walking her dog Maverick.