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)
A great article on the effects of coffee by health ambition
More on what caffeine does to the brain can be found here
What have you experienced giving up coffee?