Today is day 31 of my month with no caffeine, I feel great.
Day 1 however was a completely different story and its taken most of the month to get to where I am.
Why No Caffeine?
I love coffee! Not any coffee, I love whole beans from south america, freshly roasted within the past 7 days, ground directly into my espresso machine served at just the right temperature in just the right cup. (info on making the perfect espresso can be found here) I would like to say I don’t need coffee, I drink it for enjoyment rather than being addicted.
However about 6 weeks ago I was struggling. New (ish) job with lots of pressure, a 6 month old baby who sleeps intermittently throughout the night and no time to unwind just a go,go,go mentality. I found my coffee fix had snuck up from 2 quality coffees per day to 4 or 5 of any caffeinated beverage I could find to keep me awake.
Not only was I using it as a crux to stay awake and alert, I felt like I was more exhausted than I appeared on the outside and I new caffeine was masking my true level of tiredness. If you’ve heard the term, ‘coffee is borrowed energy from tomorrow’ then I was about a month in arrears.
I tend to like doing experiments on myself (especially with my diet) so it seemed like a good idea at the time to go cold turkey and wake up one Saturday and abstain from my usual double espresso. I was fine in the morning and quite enjoyed the change to a fresh peppermint tea.
Fast forward to 2pm and a metamorphosis occurred. When I approached the time of my normal 3rd coffee I hit a wall. My brain turned to fog, physically I became lethargic and I suddenly had the communication skills and inner drive of a drunk zombie. Acknowledging this was a temporary symptom I forced myself through the next couple of hours until I hit bed time. Thats when the most excruciating headache hit me and the only way i could stop it was to lay motionless in a dark room with earplugs to avoid any noise. That night consisted of waking up in pain or in cold sweats, much like a severe case of man flu! but instead this was self inflicted. That night i vowed to myself I would never get hooked to the black stuff again (or if i did i would never go cold turkey again)
I’d like to say I woke up the next day fine, however the above symptoms carried on for the next 3 to 4 days and the only let up I had was it gradually decreased in intensity. (info on caffeine addiction here)
The following few days consisted of me feeling a lot fresher and sharper during the day and gradually I thought less about coffee and more about my thirst and drinking water.
I did find my bedtime went from a respectable 10pm to an embarrassing 7.30pm in the first week and I took a few days after that to build up to staying awake until 10pm like normal. But once I was there i was relieved and since then I have been falling a sleep quicker and sleeping more deeply and undisturbed (apart from the obvious baby wake ups).
Benefits I had from no caffeine
- Continuous sleep (10-5)
- Sleep deeper
- Wake up fresher
- Constant energy all day
- No craving of coffee
- Better hydration as I now drink more water/peppermint tea
- Mood is more stable
- Thoughts are clearer
- My actual level of tiredness is not masked so I know when I need to sleep
- Body feels like it is functioning better
- Breath is better
- Stress levels reduced (cortisol reduced)
- Digestion improved (less bloating)
- I am happier
- I feel like theres less toxins in my body
- Cost saving
I am undecided if I have quit the black stuff for good, but I am definitely going to take a lot of consideration before I get back in the habit and volume I was in before.
If you drink a lot of coffee or energy drinks, maybe give your body a break and try a week or two with the caffeine. (be warned pick your week wisely)
More on what caffeine does to the brain can be found here
What have you experienced giving up coffee?