How I Quit Drinking Caffeine

Do you want to know what effect quitting caffeine had on me? When I quit drinking caffeine, my life changed for the better. No more sleepless nights, no more grumpy mornings, no more headaches, and increased productivity.

I’ve been an avid coffee drinker for many years. I simply enjoy the smell of coffee in the morning and the taste of it. Just over a year ago, I quit drinking coffee. A few months later I stopped drinking caffeine altogether.

Quitting caffeine changed my life. It is completely transformed.

I would say it’s not unusual for my colleagues to drink 6-8 cups of coffee per day. Compared to the national average of 1.84 cups of coffee per day, I’d say that’s still a bit high.

Just a fun fact, Netherlands is 5th on the list of top 10 Coffee Consuming Nations. I would say the coffee culture is strong in our country.

I get it. It is hard to get up in the morning. I too have trouble some days to get up at 6 am every morning. It’s hard to actually get out of bed and start working on the blog. I was thinking that I need some coffee to keep me going, so I drank that first thing in the morning for a long time. My experience since quitting drinking coffee is that I didn’t need it at all. 

Since I’ve decided to give up caffeine, my life has changed for the better. The benefits of quitting caffeine and the benefits of quitting coffee are amazing.

I would have never thought that quitting caffeine would have these awesome benefits and change my life in this way!

Caffeine Nation

The Dutch love their coffee – besides the fact that we’re 5th on the top 10 coffee consuming nations, over 70% is drinking coffee daily. For people that are drinking coffee, they are drinking an average of 4.1 cups per day. That’s more like the 6-8 cups my colleagues are consuming!

Can you believe that? I’m part of the 3 out of 10 people who don’t drink coffee daily. 

I would say these statistics are also valid for other parts of the world. Just a fun list of top 10 coffee consuming nations:

  1. Finland
  2. Norway
  3. Iceland
  4. Denmark
  5. Netherlands
  6. Sweden
  7. Switzerland
  8. Belgium
  9. Luxembourg
  10. Canada

The United States is placed at 25, for the curious people!

My Coffee Addiction

While I don’t care for black tea of Coca-Cola (or Pepsi), I did drink a LOT of coffee. I would wake up, stroll to the coffee machine with my eyes still closed, and I would make my coffee.

Honestly, I would be too tired to open my eyes before drinking at least one cup of coffee.

At work, I had another few cups of coffee before lunch even started.

On days where I didn’t have so much coffee in the morning, I would get a headache in the afternoon and get sleepy.

This resulted in me still heading for my coffee fix. When I would go out for lunch or dinner, I would order a hot cup of coffee afterward. When I drink coffee after 8 pm, I had trouble falling asleep. Meaning that there would be nights where I would be awake until 5 am.

On top of that, I got very stressed when drinking too much coffee. I would try to be in this hyperfocused state where I could get as much work done in as little time. That resulted in me coming home from work completely exhausted, since I’ve used up all my adrenaline for the day.

When I all sum it up like this, it sounds like a habit you want to get rid of asap. I didn’t see it that way for a long time. I enjoy my coffee, I like the taste of it, and I didn’t think it would impact my life in any way.

It wasn’t possible that something as nice as coffee would impact my health, right? I mean, everyone is drinking it, they say it’s healthy, so I didn’t see the benefits of quitting caffeine.

Quitting Caffeine The Awesome Benefits Of No More Coffee

Coffee And I were One

Drinking coffee a pretty personal decision. In my case, I had some pretty bad side effects from drinking coffee. My coffee consumption would go through the roof and it would impact my sleep – a lot. When I would drink coffee after 3 pm, I could not sleep before 1 am. 

In the end, the reason I quit drinking caffeine is not about my sleeping pattern – I would just fight that by drinking more coffee (how smart). It had nothing to do with the 50$ I spent monthly on coffee, despite the increase in savings, investments or even compounding interest. The ultimate reason why I quit drinking coffee was my stress level. 

How I Developed My Coffee Addiction

Growing up, I never had caffeine. When I went to university, I started drinking coffee as my life depended on it. 

I would meet my friends in the university library for coffee. I would go grab lunch in the city center and get a coffee. Or I would study and drink coffee. I would be hungover and drink coffee. You get it, I consumed more coffee than water at that point. Perhaps the only thing I would consume more than coffee was beer, oh student life

In university, I wasn’t stressed at all – except for my exam week once every 2 months.

When I started working, I got very stressed because of the amount of coffee that I was drinking. I couldn’t focus on my long term tasks, I would get stressed when my manager asked me something, I would get stressed when I wasn’t able to finish my work. Basically, I was stressed the entire time I was working, and I hated it. 

I was never stressed before, so why would this come to me at this moment of my life? I didn’t understand it at first. The stress at my work would get worse and worse, until I developed anxiety about getting up and getting to work.

I wasn’t feeling the way I was feeling before. I was thinking it was because I didn’t enjoy my job as much as I’d expect.

It wasn’t until summer when I noticed a correlation between my stress level and the coffee I was drinking.

Negative Side Effects of Coffee – According To Research

When I am not sure about something, I ask my good friend Google. I love to have some research-backed knowledge and act based on that. 

I found that caffeine had a 6 hours half-life, meaning that the coffee I had after lunch would still be in my blood for 25% when I went to sleep. B

Besides that, I found an article that stated that caffeine can lead to poor concentration, anxiety, increased stress levels, irritability, sleeplessness, rapid heart rate, and stomach ache. 

Caffeine can make you feel restless, it can cause nausea, dehydration, and even a dependence on caffeine. Your central nervous system is responding to the stimulating effects of caffeine, which can make it addictive.

Personally, I also experienced an irregular heartbeat, nervousness, and could get an occasional migraine.

For me, there were two main reasons to quit drinking caffeine:

  • Poor concentration
  • Increased stress levels

Poor Concentration

If you’re reading this and you think you definitely need that cup of coffee in the morning, you might want to reconsider. A study done by the University of British Columbia started that caffeine could wreck productivity and cause poor concentration in hard workers. 

The caffeine high might get you from tired to wired within minutes, but once the effects wear off your productivity, mood, and concentration are all negatively impacted. 

Increased Stress Levels

Drinking caffeine on a daily basis can increase stress levels, meaning that the stress you’re already experiencing in your job can be enhanced by drinking coffee.

Do you have a high stress job that demands much from you? Caffeine might be adding to that stress. 

When we combine this knowledge with the knowledge stress is generally unhealthy to experience in the long term, why would we want to add unnecessary stress to our lives?

Cup of coffee

Quitting Caffeine, Going Cold Turkey

I got my wakeup call and quit drinking caffeine cold turkey. No coffee, no coke, no black or green tea (yes, there is also caffeine in green tea).

I have to tell you that it was hard at first. I had some caffeine withdrawal symptoms that I wasn’t expecting.

I was a zombie in the morning, having pounding headaches, and night sweats. After a week or so, I started to have more energy and I was less stressed. 

It was initially to get rid of my stomach ache, but it resulted in increased overall wellbeing. 

Here are the benefits I experienced when giving up caffeine and not drinking coffee are:

What Happens To Your Body When You Stop Drinking Coffee?

The moment you stop drinking coffee, your body stops getting the adrenaline and dopamine hit that it was experiencing when you drank coffee. The adrenaline and dopamine keep you awake, acting as natural stimulants. When you stop that, hormones that make you tired (called adenosine) enter your brain. Your brain is not used to this, creating a headache.

If you are quitting caffeine abruptly, you may experience some unpleasant side effects. The adenosine is flooding your brain more intensely when you quit abruptly. This means that you will experience withdrawal symptoms more severely.

If you are quitting caffeine abruptly, you may experience some unpleasant side effects. The adenosine is flooding your brain more intensely when you quit abruptly. This means that you will experience withdrawal symptoms more severely.

Is It Bad To Stop Drinking Coffee Cold Turkey?

The preferred method by many is to quit their coffee or caffeine habit cold turkey. This means you quit suddenly and abruptly. While it is of course possible, be aware that your caffeine withdrawal symptoms could worsen. If you drink a lot of caffeine, cutting back slowly may be the solution.

Personally, I don’t mind that the withdrawal symptoms are more severe. The withdrawal symptoms didn’t last very long and I preferred to stop this habit as soon as possible.

How Long Does Coffee Withdrawal Last?

We know that there are some withdrawal symptoms when you stop drinking coffee. The coffee withdrawal begins when the last caffeine leaves your blood, which is generally 12 to 24 hours after your last cup of coffee. The withdrawal symptoms can last between 2-7 days.

Benefits Of Quitting Caffeine

We’ve discussed the important negative side effects of coffee, and what happens to your body the moment you stop drinking coffee. Now let’s go into the benefits of quitting caffeine. What will you get on the side of this all?

Less Anxiety & Less Stress

One major thing that quitting caffeine did for me is it lowered my anxiety levels. I underestimated the psychological effects of caffeine.

When something comes up at work, I am more relaxed and I am able to respond better. I feel less overwhelmed as I go through my work and I do not experience the feeling of being in a rush.

On top of that, I maintain my focus for longer and it is easier for me to work on big projects.

I did not expect that quitting caffeine would give me such a big boost in my focus and relaxed attitude at work. I love it!

Better Sleep At Night

Caffeine is influencing my sleep big time!

I knew that and I took measures. No coffee after 3 PM.

Even though I did that, apparently the caffeine that was still in my body influenced my sleep. It was harder for me to fall asleep at night.

When I quit drinking coffee, my sleep improved. I was sleeping deeper, was not waking up as regularly, and woke up rested.

I even managed to resist the desire for my afternoon nap. Mostly.

Indirect Benefits Of Quitting Caffeine

Indirectly, giving up caffeine changed my life in many other ways.

I was not listening to my body. If I was tired, I drank coffee. When I was hungry but was working on a project, I took another coffee. Instead of drinking water, I drank coffee.

When I quit caffeine, I started listening to my body. Drinking water when I’m thirsty, eating when I’m hungry, and sleeping more when I’m tired.

Another major thing is that, because my focus improved drastically, I got MUCH more done at work. My energy levels are more stable and I actually am more present at work.

Conclusion – Quitting Caffeine Changed My Life

I can say that I’m feeling happier, healthier, and more rested since I quit drinking caffeine.

I’m not saying quitting caffeine is the cure to everything in life. I’m saying that caffeine could contribute or enhance certain responses and reactions in your everyday life. 

Drinking caffeine-free beverages and indulging in some decaf coffee may be just what you need. Change your current coffee habit of drinking up to six cups a day, as many people do. You will be surprised how great you’ll feel!

Have you considered giving up caffeine?

Original article appeared on Radical FIRE and it has been republished with permission.