For me, the day only begins when the first (or second) cup of coffee is consumed. And I’m not alone in my coffee craze; 64% of American adults consume the popular drink daily. That’s how I’ve operated my entire adult life — until a month ago, when I gave up caffeinated cold turkey.
While I loved the buzz of caffeine and the heightened alertness that coffee gave me (or so I thought), I began to notice that my relationship with coffee was becoming toxic – riddled with jitters, irritability, lack of energy and growing anxiety. I won’t say it was a complete addiction, but I relied heavily on caffeine to get me going every morning. When I got to the point of drinking three or four cups a day and not enjoying it anymore due to anxiety and energy crashes, I knew it was time for a change.
That’s when I decided to cut out the caffeine by replacing my morning coffee with herbal teas. At first, the task seemed impossible. The tea was bland and the caffeine withdrawal symptoms immediately kicked my ass. On the first day, I experienced headaches, mental fog, poor sleep, irritability, lack of energy and lack of motivation. Also, TMI alert, my morning bowel movements, which once ran like clockwork, suddenly became a struggle every morning. These symptoms persisted from the second to the fifth day. Fortunately, they subsided after the first week, but continued to persist until the end of the second week.
After two weeks of suffering in a post-caffeine stupor, something miraculous happened. My body started adjusting to running without caffeine. I didn’t crave that caffeine buzz anymore and was starting to feel… different. Not like my old coffee-guzzling self, but a better version of my real self.
Read on to discover my life-changing benefits after quitting caffeine for 30 days, and find out why you might consider giving it up, too.
I started to sleep better.
Remember when you were a teenager and you could sleep anywhere, anytime, for hours? Oh yes [cue nostalgic sigh], that was the time. Like most people, I have always attributed my sleep problems to “aging”. However, my sleep improved dramatically within two weeks of stopping caffeine. I started falling asleep with no problem, didn’t have to get up to pee at night, and constantly woke up feeling energized and refreshed – no more zombies hanging around the kitchen to wait for my caffeine dump.
Although caffeine can temporarily boost alertness during the day, it can seriously affect your sleep quality and cause drowsiness and irritability the next day. So when you habitually consume caffeine, it becomes a vicious cycle of short periods of alertness followed by bursts of energy and persistent fatigue. For example, research shows that drinking 400 milligrams of caffeine six hours before bed can significantly disrupt sleep quality by reducing total sleep time by one hour. When experienced over time, this loss of sleep can wreak havoc on your health.
My teeth have started to whiten.
I don’t know about you, but I’m sick of being told off by my dentist for being a coffee drinker. My teeth have never been stained too badly, but they could definitely have had more shine. Every six months visit to the dentist, they asked me whether or not I drank coffee and commented on my stained teeth. Well, I can’t wait for my next dentist appointment to give them my spotless smile!
Along with helping to whiten your teeth and eliminate coffee breath, giving up caffeine has other oral health benefits. Coffee is very acidic and research shows that acidic beverages can damage tooth enamel and promote tooth decay.
I felt less anxious and irritable.
As someone who struggled with anxiety most of their life, it was remarkable how quitting caffeine calmed my nerves and eased my anxiety. I found that I was no longer as stressed about work or family issues. Little things like spilling the milk no longer agitated me. My newfound calm makes sense, considering that caffeine boosts your “fight or flight” stress hormones, which can cause anxiety, jitters, heart palpitations, and panic attacks.
Another huge, undiscussed benefit of reducing anxiety is that I had more patience raising my children. Of course, any parent knows that patience is a skill you need to work on developing all your life, but after my withdrawal symptoms disappeared and the anxious nervousness dissipated, I was much less irritable and, as a result, all the more present (and much less stressed) around my children, which is perhaps the most life-changing effect on my life.
Adam is a health writer, certified holistic nutritionist, and 100% plant-based athlete. Learn more about Adam
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