Caffeine - 60 min

Coffee, Tea, or Agile?
Linda Rising
[email protected]
Caffeine – our drug of choice
The world’s most popular drug, easily
surpassing nicotine and alcohol.
The only addictive, psychoactive substance to be
freely available almost everywhere,
unregulated, sold over the counter, without
Added to beverages designed for children.
Coffee, tea, or chocolate?
Arrived in the West ~1600
Different taste and smell, but all contain
significant amounts of caffeine.
Caffeine-yielding plants discovered in Paleolithic
times, as early as 700,000 B.C.E.
Stone Age humans chewed seeds, roots, bark,
leaves of plants or ground plant material to a
paste before ingestion.
During medieval times, schedules were lax,
holidays many, disorganization pervasive.
No accurate timepieces.
The uniformity of pendulum motion was
discovered by Galileo in 1583, and came into
general use over the next 100 year.
For most of human existence, sleep and
wakefulness was determined by the sun and the
The clock and caffeine were essential to the
surge in economic growth started in England
~1800—The Industrial Age!
Workers had to adapt and cope with a
schedule set by a clock, not by daylight or the
natural sleep cycle.
Beer for Breakfast
Heat beer in a saucepan.
In a separate small pot beat a couple of eggs.
Add chunk of butter to the hot beer. Stir in some
cool beer, then pour over the eggs.
Add salt, and mix, whisking to keep from curdling.
Europeans averaged ~3 l beer/person/day.
India and China had great civilizations while
Europeans were staggering around in a
drunken stupor !
Words from an ancient sage
In wine there is wisdom.
In beer there is freedom.
In water there is bacteria.
Caffeine vs. Alcohol
Caffeine is soluble in hot water. Boiling water
helped decrease the incidence of disease in
crowded cities.
Caffeine facilitated the great transformation of
human economic endeavor from the farm to
the factory in the West.
How does it work?
Moves easily from stomach and intestines to the
bloodstream, to the organs, and almost every cell
of the body.
Crosses the blood-brain barrier, reaches its peak
concentration in the brain in ~1 hour.
Caffeine blocks the effect of adenosine (one of
the body’s natural sleeping pills) and keeps us
from falling asleep.
New journal Caffeine Research
Rates of metabolism
Half-life of caffeine in adults ~3.5 hrs
Women on the pill ~5.5 hrs
Pregnant women ~10 hrs
Caffeine in babies
Fetus/newborn unable to metabolize caffeine
Most babies in the developed world are born
with traces of caffeine in their bodies
Half-life in infants ~100 hrs
Infant’s half-life slowly decreases, reaches adult
level by 8 months, but not mature until 1 yr.
Caffeine + Nicotine
Nicotine moderates mood, extends attention,
doubles the rate of caffeine metabolism.
The original coffeehouse was a place where men
could sit and smoke and drink.
The tobacco they smoked made it possible to
drink coffee all day. The coffee they drank
inspired them to talk all day.
Out of this came the Enlightenment !
The downside
We try to take control away from our
hardwired circadian rhythm.
But we pay a heavy price for the extra
Without adequate sleep, ~7 hours/day, the
human body will not function at its best,
physically, mentally, or emotionally.
The global average, hours of sleep/night is
Productivity Myths
Sleeping and breaks are a waste of time.
The best way to solve problems is to put
in as much time as possible without
No one takes naps except babies and old
If you are not doing serious WORK, you
are slacking off and not contributing.
Honore de Balzac, great and prolific French writer was a caffeine addict.
For awhile, you can obtain the right amount of stimulation with one, then
two cups of coffee brewed from beans crushed with gradually increasing
force and infused with hot water. By decreasing the amount of water, by
pulverizing the coffee even more finely, by infusing the grounds with cold
water, you can obtain the same cerebral power.
Ideas quick-march into motion like battalions of a grand army to its
legendary fighting ground, and the battle rages. Memories charge in, bright
flags on high; the cavalry of metaphor deploys with a magnificent gallop,
the artillery of logic rushes up with clattering wagons and cartridges; on
imagination's orders, sharpshooters sight and fire; forms and shapes and
characters rear up; the paper is spread with ink, the nightly labor begins
and ends with torrents of this black water.
In the end, Balzac resorted to eating dry coffee grounds to achieve the
desired effect. He died at age 49.
The Swedish Experiment
King Gustav III (ruled Sweden latter half 18th century)
hated/feared coffee and devised an experiment.
One convicted murderer was sentenced to drink coffee
daily until he died.
A second murderer was sentenced to a lifetime of tea
drinking as a control.
Gustav was murdered and doctors in charge of the
study died before the tea drinker (of old age at 83),
leaving the original murderer alone with his espresso.
Caffeine no better than
Caffeine improves “vigilance tasks” - prolonged
attention, little physical activity.
Effects most apparent after long effort, minimal
when tasks just begun.
When allowed to take breaks no significant benefit
from caffeine.
Good night’s sleep improves performance, mood,
alertness better than caffeine. Benefits last
longer than caffeine (loses effect within 6 hrs).
NASA Studies
26 min nap improves performance by
34% and alertness by 54%
Caffeine nap: takes 20 min for caffeine
to have full effect, so drink caffeine and
take 20 min nap
Nap Tips
Best nap time: 1-3 p.m. hardwired low energy
20 min: improves motor skills
30 min: improves memory
90 min: makes connections between new info &
existing memories
Practice makes perfect. Non-nappers slower to
wake and more groggy.
Don't nap within 3 hrs of bedtime
Faster but not better?
Caffeine improves the performance of simple,
familiar, routine tasks, and impairs or fails to
affect the accomplishment of complex, novel,
unfamiliar tasks—perhaps by causing people
to work more quickly but possibly less
Caffeine stimulates fast, strong, but incorrect
Introverts vs. Extroverts
When posed with challenging mental tasks, e.g.
solving mathematical problems, impulsive,
extroverted people get a boost in performance
from caffeine, while the less impulsive and more
introverted tended to suffer marked detriments.
All seem to do better the higher the dose, for simple
tasks. On complex tasks, extroverts’
performance improved depending on the dose,
while the introverts got worse.
Trouble with Experiments
Creating a control group is difficult because
nearly everyone is “on” caffeine.
Withholding caffeine puts the control group at a
disadvantage. Stopping caffeine use has been
shown to impair performance.
Perhaps the results that show improved
performance are really showing the effects of
caffeine withdrawal?
Spiders on Drugs
And our children?
All the sugar + twice the
caffeine 1985 – 72 mg
caffeine in 12 oz
1987 - 80 mg caffeine in 8 oz
1 tsp = 400 mg caffeine
Caffeinated Snacks
Perky Jerky 150 mg per bag
Maple Bacon-Flavored Lollipop
80 mg caffeine per pop
200 mg in 5 minutes
Caffeine + Alcohol
Is Agile the new “caffeine”?
No side effects?
Agile teams can get themselves into hot
water !
Good for teams? Good for us?
Is it possible to apply an approach that works
well for teams to our own lives?
Are we assuming that what was good in the
Industrial Age should still be good for us now?
Should we be experimenting, learning, working
toward the goal of living our lives in the best
possible way?
No answers, just questions.
Thanks for listening!
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