A Morning Routine Experiment: Coffee vs. Reading

By: Audie Lauf

Nothing makes my morning feel more complete than my usual larger-than-life-Americano with an extra shot of espresso. That caffeine cocktail could wake the dead, but I decided to try a five-day experiment. Instead of my morning jolt of caffeine, I decided to read a chapter from a book before I started my day — a different method of stimulation to awaken my brain. Here is an account of what happened the week I decided to read instead of taking in my morning coffee.

Monday: 7:00 a.m.

I had to remind myself that I decided to avoid caffeine altogether — I turned off the Mr. Coffee machine I bought at a garage sale for a dollar. I turned around and picked up a biography for one of the founding fathers. After taking 15 minutes to read a chapter, I felt a bit more awake than I was expecting. I took on the day like it was any other day of the week.

Tuesday: 7:00 a.m.

Again, it took me a few failed attempts to remember that I had given my coffee maker a vacation for the week. I had to pour the coffee grounds back into the can. Again, I made the commitment to sit down at the table and crack open the biography. After I spent 18 minutes reading about how the Declaration of Independence was signed, I was a bit shocked to feel like I had actually had my morning cup of joe.

Wednesday: 7:30 a.m.

After a late night of internship responsibilities, I was starting my morning off a bit late. I was dreading the promise I made to myself and thought this was the start of withdrawals. After waking up with a slight headache, I flipped the pages to the designated chapter and read about some of the issues our founding fathers had while signing the Declaration of Independence. I closed the book with a slight headache but decided it was something that could be fixed with a glass of lime-infused iced water.

Thursday: 8:00 a.m.

Feeling the lag in my morning routine, I decided to take a short walk to the park to read the chapter in my book, hoping the fresh air would help the intellectual stimulation. I read as I sat on the park bench. It might have been the sweat breaking from my forehead, but I was surprised to notice that I had a bit more spring in my step than I expected without a takeaway cup of Seattle’s Best.

Friday: 7:00 a.m.

I was surprised that I woke up this morning at my regular hour without a caffeine withdrawal headache. I came down the stairs to pick up my copy of the biography. I gladly read the final chapter of the book with a smile on my face. After finishing the epilogue, I closed the book and headed out to the local library to pick up a new non-fiction option.

After my five-day trial period of avoiding caffeine, which felt more like an entire semester, I was surprised to notice the difference in my summer routine. Although it’s hard to believe, my day felt more stimulated. While caffeine is a gift from above, it only lasts a few moments. After a morning of intellectual stimulation, I found that my jolt of energy lasted well throughout the afternoon. I still find myself making a cup of coffee, but I keep the size of the cup a bit smaller.

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