In 2019, for the first time in my adult life, I committed to quitting caffeine for 30 days. This means 30 days without my favorite soft drinks, teas and full-caf coffees.
What I thought was going to be month of personal challenge to grow my self control and give my body a rest, quickly turned out to be a life changing experience that changed my sleep patterns, moods and how my body functions on a daily basis.
The benefits of cutting caffeine have absolutely changed my life.
Why I Considered Quitting Caffeine
In late 2018, I made it through a long holiday season of working pretty hard, spending lots of time with friends and family and keeping up with activities, only to let my coffee intake slip up to to 4-5 cups a day. And, that doesn’t even include diet sodas. Yikes!
And, I was also not sleeping well at night. Wait, that’s an understatement.
I wasn’t sleeping period.
When you have 5 cups of coffee and then diet drinks pulsing through your veins all day long, it takes that sneaky, addictive caffeine quite a while to work itself out of your body.
So I wasn’t sleeping well and even was having some pretty high and low personal energy fluctuations throughout the day.
Enter: Jennifer Lopez and Gisele Bundchen
While doing some Internet searching, I read an article about how both Jennifer Lopez and Gisele Bundchen both limit caffeine on a daily basis and contribute their amazing looks to living life with low-to-no caffeine.
Huh, I figured if they can give up the little stimulating, addictive drug, I might be able to also.
Benefits of Quitting Caffeine
Upon doing a little research, I found that the benefits of cutting caffeine from your diet are huge. Here are a just few:
- Less anxiety
- More sleep
- Better looking skin
- Whiter teeth
- Better mood
- Financial savings
- Lower blood pressure
- Less addiction
Food and Drinks You Didn’t Realize Have Caffeine
I also realized that many popular drinks and foods have caffeine, and most people don’t realize how much they are consuming everday. Drinks with caffeine include:
- Hot chocolate
- Soft drinks
- Vitamin Water
- Green tea
Many foods also have caffeine such as protein bars, chocolates, cereal, ice cream, instant oatmeal, pudding and others.
What to Expect When Quitting Caffeine
So I set out to quit caffeine for 30 days.
If I am being honest, the first few days were bad. Like really bad.
Day 1 was bland. Day 2 was when the headaches started … and they lasted for about 10 days.
The headaches, I soon learned, were from caffeine withdrawal. Caffeine can constrict blood flow to your brain and when you suddenly remove it from your diet, it hurts your head. More blood flow to the brain hurts a little bit at first.
Not only did I have headaches from caffeine withdrawal, but starting on day 3 or 4, I had hardly enough energy to stay awake all day.
I am talking about can-hardly-keep-my-eyes-open kind of energy as early as 10 am during that first week.
For the first 5 days of quitting caffeine, I felt like I had been hit by a truck. Luckily, my workload at work was a little bit lighter and I didn’t have to have intense focus or productivity during those few days because I was not in a great mood, had low energy and all I wanted to do was sleep.
But then something started changing at the same time I suffered through the withdrawal: I started sleeping incredibly well.
Goodbye Insomnia, Hello Sleep
Being someone who has fought insomnia most of my adult life, I’ve tried it all – Melatonin, synthetic sleeping pills, no screen time one hour before bed, and many more antics to calm down my body into rest. And not much of it worked over time.
As soon as I dropped caffeine from my diet, within a few days I started sleeping like a baby.
For the first two weeks of quitting caffeine, I was sluggish during the day, but when my head hit the pillow at night, I slept like a baby.
And that was great.
After two weeks, my body adjusted to the lower caffeine levels and other changes started to happen too.
Not only was I sleeping better, but my energy levels stayed more even during the day. My moods stayed more even also.
No, I didn’t get that jolt that a morning cup of coffee gave me until 10:30 or 11 am, but I also didn’t slump in the afternoon. From morning until evening, my energy levels started to balance and were quite good.
Results of Quitting Caffeine
Quitting caffeine was hard. It was harder than I expected because it affected my mood and my body.
But the results of going no caffeine have been tremendous. Yes, it’s been a difficult experience to cut caffeine from my diet. And yes, I did have some friends who thought it was weird, but the benefits have outweighed the cost.
First, I sleep way better than I have in the previous 12 years of my adult life, which is invaluable for my physical, emotional and mental health.
Second, I don’t spend near as much money at Starbucks than in times past.
Third, while I have gone back to drinking caffeine on most days, I don’t drink nearly as much. I can cut it off at 1-2 cups of caffeine instead of 4-5 cups.
Cutting caffeine for a month helped give me control over my habit and having to find alternatives to drinking caffeine rich drinks has forced me to be more mindful of what I eat and drink to make healthier choices overall.
Is Cutting Caffeine Right for You?
Cutting caffeine out of your diet for a short time or as a lifestyle choice might be right for you if you want to sleep better and maintain better daily energy levels and moods.
Cutting caffeine might not be right for you, if you aren’t addicted to it in the first place; you work an incredibly demanding job requiring high energy; or you’re not in a good life place to make dietary changes.
How to Begin Cutting Caffeine
If you feel like it might be good to cut caffeine from your diet, rest assured, you don’t have to immediately go cold turkey.
A great way to begin cutting caffeine could be to replace your morning cup of coffee with decaf coffee.
Decaf coffee has a low level of caffeine in it, but it is significantly lower than full-caffeine coffee and you’ll begin to notice a significant a physical difference even if you make this small change.
If you combine this change with regularly drinking more water and fewer flavored drinks, you’ll be well on your way to cutting caffeine in no time.
Alternatives to Caffeinated Drinks
If you feel like going cold turkey and cutting caffeine completely, just know that the adjustment period will be tough.
Most drinks have caffeine in them, which you’ll have to limit and to be successful, you’ll have to find healthier replacements. It will be tough, but worth it.
A few great low-to-no caffeine options to begin with are: