Sleep habits in the fire service can be less than adequate to say the least. With interrupted sleep patterns on top of one of the most physically demanding careers in America, the lack of quality sleep is bleeding over into other aspects of our lives and it's literally killing us. From poor diet and lack of exercise, heart disease is our number one threat. We as firefighters, are now more obese as a culture than the general public. According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), over 70% of firefighters are overweight or obese. How sad is that? Currently, people have this wonderful idea of their picturesque firefighter; attractive, kind, and physically fit. How long will it be before we change the public's idea on what a firefighter is as more and more of us step off of a firetruck and bring hundreds of pounds of fat and a myriad of health issues with us? One way I have observed many of my fellow firefighters compensate for these low-energy moments and contribute to needless stress on the heart is the mass consumption of energy drinks.
Thanks to DailyMail, here's a breakdown of how energy drinks affect your body for the first 24 hours after you drink one:
Within the first 10 minutes:
- the caffeine kicks in and your blood pressure and heart rate rises
15-45 minutes later:
- your blood pressure rises higher
- the liver dumps more sugar into the blood stream
- eyes dilate and your level of alertness increases
- adenosine receptors kick into high gear and "tell" your brain that you're not drowsy (even though you really are)
- your body starts to experience a sugar crash as well as the effects of the caffeine wearing off
- you'll start to feel tired and energy levels will feel low, if not lower than they were before you opened the can
- this is the half-life of caffeine, meaning, this is how long it takes your body to reduce it by 50%
- women on birth control require double the length for their body to reduce it
- the time that it takes the body to fully remove caffeine from their bloodstream
- the speed at which this happens depends on a person's age and level of activity
- as caffeine is a drug, many who consume large, concentrated amounts of it at a given time are likely to experience withdrawal symptoms such as: headaches, irritability, abdominal pain, and/or constipation
- studies have shown that this is the amount of time it takes for your body to adapt to your regular caffeine dosage, meaning you'll get used to it and won't feel it's effects as much and will need more to get the desired effect
I hope that you've found this post informative and enlightening. As a firefighter, I know that heart disease has got it's sights on me. My question is, "why would I want to expedite it and give it a train ticket so that it shows up much sooner than later?" Next time you reach for an energy drink maybe ask yourself, "do I really need to give myself a chemically charged tachycardia while I'm just sitting in this chair?" And if your excuse is, "I just really like the taste!", PLEASE don't sacrifice the miles on your heart for the sake of something that "tastes good".
As always, please share with those that you think would like to read the blog and comments are always welcome!
Be hard to kill!