For me, the day only begins with the first (or second) cup of coffee. And I’m not alone in my infatuation with coffee; 64% of US adults consume the popular beverage on a daily basis. That’s how I’ve functioned my entire adult life—until a month ago, when I quit cold turkey with caffeine.
While I used to love the caffeine buzz and heightened alertness coffee gave me (or so I thought), I began noticing my relationship with coffee was becoming toxic — riddled with nervousness, irritability, low energy, and growing anxiety. I won’t say it was a full blown addiction, but I relied heavily on caffeine to get me going each morning. When I got to the point where I was drinking three or four cups a day and stopped enjoying it due to the anxiety and energy crashes, I knew it was time for a change.
That’s when I decided to cut out caffeine by swapping my morning coffee for herbal teas. At first the task seemed impossible. The tea was bland and the caffeine withdrawal symptoms immediately threw a spanner in the works. The first day I had headaches, mental fog, poor sleep, irritability, lack of energy and lack of motivation. Also – TMI alert – my morning bowel movements that once ran like clockwork suddenly became a struggle every morning. These symptoms lasted from days two through five. Luckily, they decreased after the first week but lasted until the end of the second week.
After two weeks of suffering in a post-caffeine stupor, something wonderful happened. My body was beginning to adjust to functioning without caffeine. I stopped craving that caffeine high and started to feel… different. Not like my old coffee-eating self, but a better version of my true self.
Read on to discover the life-changing benefits I’ve experienced after giving up caffeine for 30 days, and find out why you might want to consider giving up too.
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I started sleeping better.
Remember when you were a teenager and you could sleep for hours anywhere, anytime? Ah yes [cue nostalgic sigh], those were the days. Like most people, I’ve always attributed my sleep problems to “getting older.” However, my sleep improved tremendously within two weeks of giving up the caffeine. I started falling asleep easily, no longer had to get up to pee at night, and consistently woke up energized and refreshed — no more zombie shuffling to the kitchen to wait for my caffeine hit.
While caffeine can temporarily increase alertness during the day, it can seriously affect your sleep quality, causing drowsiness and irritability the next day. So when you habitually consume caffeine, it becomes a vicious cycle of brief bursts of alertness followed by energy slumps and persistent fatigue. For example, research shows that drinking 400 milligrams of caffeine six hours before bedtime can significantly impact sleep quality by reducing overall sleep time by an hour. Over time, this lack of sleep can affect your health.
My teeth started getting whiter.
I don’t know about you, but I’m sick of being reprimanded by my dentist for being a coffee drinker. My teeth have never been overly discolored, but they could certainly have more shine. At every six-month visit to the dentist, they asked if I drank coffee or not and commented on my discolored teeth. Well, I can’t wait to rub my spotless smile right on their faces until my next dentist appointment!
Aside from helping whiten your teeth and getting rid of coffee smell, giving up caffeine has other oral health benefits. Coffee is highly acidic, and research shows that acidic drinks can damage your tooth enamel and promote tooth decay.
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I felt less anxious and irritable.
As someone who has battled anxiety for most of his life, it was remarkable how much not caffeine calmed my nerves and suppressed my anxiety. I found I wasn’t as stressed out about work or family issues anymore. Little things like spilling the milk no longer upset me. My newfound calm makes sense considering caffeine stimulates your “fight or flight” stress hormones, which can cause anxiety, nervousness, heart palpitations, and panic attacks.
Another major undisputed benefit associated with reducing anxiety is that I have had more patience in raising my children. Of course, every parent knows that patience is a lifelong skill to work on, but after my withdrawal symptoms wore off and the anxious tremors went away, I was a lot less irritable and therefore a lot more present (and a lot less stressed). ) around my children – which is perhaps the most life-changing effect of all.