I cut back on caffeine and it was a terrible experience

Back in December, I made the switch from night shift to day shift work and decided it was time to adopt some healthier habits. My first step was cutting back on the amount of coffee I was drinking. How much was I drinking? Around 4–5 cups a day. Is that bad? Sounds bad to me. My goal was to reduce my habit to 1 cup per day and still have enough energy to be productive. Here is why that sucked:

Felt terrible

Reducing caffeine intake is painful, especially if you depended on it as much as I did. I expected headaches, but what I got instead were increasingly intense panic attacks, dizziness, and a lack of focus. I did this over Christmas too so that was bad. As soon as I realized it was the caffeine withdrawal and not an actual terminal illness though, I felt better and my brain started fighting back. This craziness only lasted a week or two. Hooray.

What else is there to drink

So now that I’m drinking less coffee I have to find other things to consume throughout the day. Things with less caffeine. My first choice was obviously black tea which has less caffeine than coffee but really defeats the purpose because it’s basically a light coffee. I also steep my tea for a really long time (because I forget or I’m too lazy to take the bag out). So black tea was pointless.

I found a good substitute in green tea. Green tea doesn’t have caffeine and if you steep it long enough and add honey, lemon or sugar it doesn’t taste bad. According to the brilliant experts (quoted) in WebMD, green tea has antioxidants like catechines that fight cell damage. It also improves blood flow and lowers cholesterol. Nowadays I drink green tea in the afternoon/evening time, which is great because it doesn’t inhibit my sleep the way coffee does. However, green tea doesn’t taste as good. I miss coffee.

Cheating is the worst

About a month in, I generally started feeling more positive about the whole thing. I thought I had beaten the addiction. Then one careless night out, I threw caution to the wind and had two espressos! That decision restarted the entire withdrawal process over the next week. Headaches, panic attacks, etc. Lesson learned. Never again. Coffee is terrible. Why do we drink this stuff?

I have more energy now, actually

I guess the biggest benefit is I now depend on myself to stay productive throughout the day. Going to bed earlier and making sure I get 8 hours of sleep every night has really improved my ability to get up in the morning and not feel terrible until that first cup of coffee. I’ve really overhauled my entire lifestyle. I read more and spend less time on my computer. I’ve discovered fruit, which are actually good sources of energy themselves (with no crash afterwards). I guess you could say cutting coffee really helped me think about other ways to maximize my health in the new year. The first (and only) cup of coffee in the morning is still the best time of the day though.

Conclusion

I would probably recommend cutting back on caffeine. I should mention that it’s not only coffee that can problematic but soda and energy drinks too. Consuming more than 400 milligrams of caffeine a day can lead to some unpleasant side effects, especially if you take medication or suffer from anxiety. Overall I think it’s important to pay attention to your health. Exercise too can help reduce your risk of a number of diseases, regulates your mood and productivity and generally increases your chances of living longer. Anyway good luck.

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