Caffeine can offer more than a quick high and a comedown—if you know how to use it right. Step one is to start clean, writes Kevin Purdy at Fast Company: Ease yourself completely off coffee over about 10 days. That may mean some headaches and groggy mornings at first. But once you’re clean, you can manipulate your intake to make your cup of joe work for you: Save your caffeine intake for those demanding days when you need it most.
It’s important to remember, Purdy notes, that caffeine doesn’t work “by directly stimulating your cells.” Instead, it stops your body from receiving signals of tiredness. So if you’re extremely sleep-deprived, it won’t actually wake you up; it “will only tweak your behavior a bit.” One caffeine strategy is to drink a cup of coffee and take a 15-minute nap. “That gives your body just enough sleep to feel slightly refreshed, and the caffeine enough time to start taking effect the minute you wake up.” And if you crave coffee for the ritual of it, try going with good decaf. Click through for more caffeine-management suggestions. (Read more coffee stories.)