A little more than two months ago, for no specific reason, in particular, I decided to completely quit drinking coffee. It was a decision I made mostly as a test to myself to prove that I’m able to sustain from anything, with a little bit of will-power. What I experienced from caffeine withdrawal over the course of five days absolutely knocked me for a loop, made me feel like my head was going to pop off the top of my neck, and kicked my butt big time.
Seriously? Those headaches that people talk about when they don’t get their caffeine fix? Yeah, those are absolutely true and it really sucks. I know some people choose to stop drinking coffee but slowly wean themselves off of it but supplementing it with other caffeinated beverages like green tea or they just cut down on the coffee slowly. But no, I decided to dive right into the deep end, cold-turkey, with no aspirin or anything, and on a mission to see what happens. Well, here’s how abstaining from coffee kicked my teeth in and threw my body way out of whack for at least five days.
First Morning Without a Cup of Coffee
On the night before I decided to completely cut caffeine out of my diet, I also made a decision to start getting up at 4:30am to go for either a brisk walk on the pier or a light jog. So, there I was on my first day without my cup of morning joe, and I’m jogging down the pier while it’s pitch dark out. It felt good to get home at 5:00am and feel a nice jolt of energy and a sense of accomplishment so early in the morning. I went through my morning routine, got ready for work, and made it to the office sometime around 6:30am or so. Immediately as I sat down at my desk, I got the urge to run into the break room to fill up on my daily fix of mediocre coffee. Sometimes I would grind my own beans at home, toss them into the French press and brew it on my own, which tasted so much better, but other times I just settled. As much as I wanted that warm, hot cup, first thing this morning, I refrained and fought through it.
However, after about three hours of sitting at my desk, I felt the weight of what seemed like 1,000 bricks just drop on me. My head began to pound behind my eyeballs, my head felt like it was a bowling ball sitting on top of my neck, and my concentration seemed to be non-existent.
By the time 9:00am rolled around, I started to feel very weak, tired, and a bit lethargic. “How could a morning run affect me so much?” I asked myself. As the day rolled on, I couldn’t help but feel my eyelids getting heavier and heavier and my irritability reaching a climax. Every little thing seemed annoying, pointless, and got on my last nerve. Honestly, I didn’t really attribute my feelings to being without coffee. I just thought I was tired and exhausted from the early morning jog. I couldn’t have been any more wrong.
That night I went home, fell asleep by 9:00pm, and thought when I woke up that I would be refreshed and ready to attack the day. I skipped the 4:30am wake up call and jog, and decided to “sleep in” until about 5:15am. Again, I went through my routine, got ready, and made my way to work. I could tell immediately that I felt a bit sluggish by the time I arrived to work. However, after about three hours of sitting at my desk, I felt the weight of what seemed like 1,000 bricks just drop on me. My head began to pound behind my eyeballs, my head felt like it was a bowling ball sitting on top of my neck, and my concentration seemed to be non-existent. As I stared at my computer screen thinking about what to type next, I found it extremely difficult to focus. My head was swirling, eyes were throbbing, and I started to feel a bit of anxiety creeping in. It was at this time that it really struck me…I’m suffering from caffeine addiction withdrawal. Unbelievable. I knew this could happen, but not to someone who would only drink two to three cups per day. I thought those effects were only reserved for the Starbuck maniacs that “need their coffee.”
Working Out Proved to be Very Important to Ease Caffeine Withdrawal
The day seemed to drag on and on and on, progressively getting worse. It did help slightly that I began downing caffeine-free tea and cold water throughout the day, but just very little. By the time my shift ended, I felt like I could barely move and could not wait to get home. However, I had also recently gotten back to working out and had a pretty strict gym schedule so I made sure not to miss my days.
As I arrived at the gym, I wasn’t sure I’d be able to lift a single pound. I had zero energy, my entire head was now pounding, and I could barely keep my eyes open. However, I was determined to fight through the pain and suffering, and after about 15 minutes, I felt my body start to come to life again. My energy was boosted, the clarity in my head began to return, and although I wouldn’t say that I felt completely better, at least I felt like I was able to function again. After my workout, I got home, cooked a nice dinner, read briefly, watched a little television, and was crashed out by 9:00pm. It was the best I had slept in a very long time!
More Energy Without Coffee? Can This be True?
Over the course of the next few days, I continued to feel the symptoms of caffeine withdrawal, but steadily they decreased, and I began to feel my energy return. In fact, after about the fifth day, I started to feel like I was thinking more clearly and had much more energy than I had when I was drinking coffee. I can’t explain this because we all know that coffee is a stimulant, but for me, my mind has been working better without coffee.
Going through this experience is something I never could have imagined. I had guessed that I might have a slight headache and that I’d feel a little sluggish, but eliminating the caffeine completely made me realize how dependent I had become on the drug. It was affecting my brain, my body, and my lifestyle. I went from someone who just enjoyed the taste, the smell, and the process of brewing coffee, to someone who obviously became somewhat hooked on it. I’m now more than two months without coffee, and I’m not sure if I’ll ever return to drinking it. Sure, I may have a cup here and there, but as far as being a daily drinker, I think those days are over. I’m thinking more clearly, I don’t feel like anything has any kind of control over me, and I’m sleeping better than ever. Why go back?
Tips That Helped Me Through Caffeine Withdrawal
- Drink tons of water: (I normally drink at least one gallon of water per day, but I was pushing about two per day during this time)
- Start drinking Herbal Tea: I’ve really gotten into this stuff. Caffeine-free tea is made from a wide-range of herbs that are all mixed together. It can be quite enjoyable picking out your herbs and creating your own varieties.
- Get plenty of sleep: Usually,I get around seven hours of sleep per night but pushed it to about eight for the first week.
- Be strong: If you’re doing this cold-turkey, you have to be mentally strong. There were plenty of times when all I could think of was going in and grabbing a cup. I had to fight the fight against my mind and just say, “nope!”
- For more information on curing your caffeine withdrawal symptoms, read more here.
Coffee May Not Be That Bad…But Dependency Is
In conclusion, I don’t necessarily think that coffee is horrible for you and your health. Like most things, though, I think if you become dependent on something and have it excessively, then it can be. I say if you’re going to have coffee, drink it sparingly and don’t think that you must have your coffee first thing in the morning, otherwise, you can’t operate. That’s not true at all. That’s just a line that coffee companies have sold to you. If you have a difficult time waking up in the morning, do some stretches, go for a walk, get the blood flowing, sing along to some songs in your car. Your mind is a powerful thing and will behave how you want it to behave. Don’t underestimate your mind…or yourself!