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Sorta Random Sunday: Waking Up Without Caffeine

I pretty much chose the one subspecialty within plastic surgery that encompasses true emergencies…microsurgery. Which means waking up early, long cases, and late night surprises. I also make the choice to do it without caffeine.

So why not talk about that today!

Why I choose to wake up without caffeine

I don’t drink any caffeine at all. No coffee. No caffeinated pop (not soda!). I guess I eat chocolate so that’s it.

But why?!

Coffee smells so good. And comes in so many fancy forms.

without caffeine
I admit, it looks delicious!

Maybe I avoid it so I can save money on lattes to accelerate my path to FIRE?!

No! No, no, no. I don’t believe in the latte factor.

Actually, I avoid caffeine because I recognized in college that it had an adverse effect on me. It didn’t just “wake me up” but made me more anxious and overly jittery.

Even so, I continued to drink it a bit in medical school. Every once in awhile. But then one day I had a bunch right before being in the OR for a long time. And I was miserable.

So, from that moment, I just stopped drinking it and found other ways to get myself alert. And it’s now been about ten years…


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Now, compared to when I did drink coffee, I feel my transition from sleepy to awake actually happens smoother.

How do I wake up without caffeine?

To be honest, on a usual run of the mill day when my kids run in the room and wake us up around 6 AM after 6-8 hours to sleep, I just kinda wake up.

I think I’ve been off of caffeine for long enough that I just don’t really know any alternative and just wake up.

So I don’t have much to report there. I think once you live without caffeine long enough, you just acclimate.

But what about those middle of the night emergencies?!

In my practice, I perform complex reconstructions by transferring “flaps” of tissue throughout the body and reattaching the blood vessels to give them life and reconstruct cancer, congenital, or traumatic defects. You can learn more about microsurgery here.

Due to the nature of the surgery, if an issue arises with the blood vessel connections, it is a surgical emergency and needs to be dealt with in the OR within 30-60 minutes. These issues can often arise in the middle of the night.

My unexpected wake up routine

My usual process for getting alert starts with just the ring on my phone. For calls from the hospital, I have a unique ring set on my phone. Because this is different, my brain gets hardwired to wake up more quickly to this ring. This takes some conditioning but has helped.

I then always drink a bunch of water. Anytime waking up, you are always dehydrated so I find this helps my system to get back in gear quicker.

Before leaving I always also brush my teeth and wash my face, even if I’ve just been asleep a few hours. By going through the motions of these parts of my “normal morning routine,” I’m conditioned to feel more awake like it is the actual morning.

Driving in, I force my brain to think through the steps that I am going to take immediately getting into the hospital and in the OR. It’s easy to fall into a brain fog listening to music or something on the drive so being active with my thoughts helps jolt me awake and into the right mindset.

And that is why I wake up without caffeine and how I manage!

Plus I also will be financial free because I don’t spend money on lattes…Just kidding!It’s actually because of these reasons:

What do you think? Do you live without caffeine? If so, why? If not, what’s your favorite drink? How do you wake up? Let me know in the comments below!

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    The Prudent Plastic Surgeon

    Jordan Frey MD, a plastic surgeon in Buffalo, NY, is one of the fastest-growing physician finance bloggers in the world. See how he went from financially clueless to increasing his net worth by $1M in 1 year and how you can do the same! Feel free to send Jordan a message at [email protected]

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