How to quit caffeine without the withdrawal symptoms
Caffeine is an addictive substance that we all know too well. We start off with a cup of coffee, then maybe another before lunch. Then it's time for another coffee in the afternoon and before dinner.
The problem is that most people don't realize they're addicted to caffeine until they go without it for a few days and experience withdrawal symptoms like headaches, irritability, difficulty concentrating and fatigue.
What are the side effects of caffeine withdrawal?
Caffeine is a stimulant that can be found in many beverages, including coffee. It's hard to imagine life without your morning cup of Joe or afternoon iced tea, but caffeine withdrawal symptoms are a real thing.
It's in coffee, tea and most sodas, so it's easy to underestimate how much caffeine we are consuming on a daily basis. Keep in mind, some caffeine in moderation is fine however many cups of coffee or caffeinated drinks daily may be detrimental to health. When someone decides they want to stop drinking caffeinated beverages, the withdrawal symptoms can be unpleasant and frustrating to shake off.
The American Psychiatric Association estimates between 30 and 50% of people who regularly consume 300 mg of caffeine per day will experience some type of withdrawal when they stop using it for about 72 hours.
The side effects of caffeine withdrawal vary from person to person but some common ones include:
- Headaches/migraines (ranging from moderate to severe) usually starting behind the eyes
- Nausea or vomiting
- Mood swings
- Insomnia (although it seems counterintuitive)
- Muscle stiffness or pain
- Decreased alertness or trouble concentrating
- Chills or hot spells
- Difficulty concentrating or thinking
- Digestive issues (usually constipation)
- Fatigue, lethargy, or sleepiness
- Irritability (moderate to extreme) and restlessness
- Sinus problems (blocked sinuses or cold-like symptoms)
These side effects may be felt shortly after stopping (12-24 hours) or may not show up until days later when the body has finished detoxing from caffeine. These unpleasant symptoms may gradually subside over 5-7 days - though there may be lingering effects!
Of course it also depends on how long you’ve been consuming caffeine, the quantities of caffeine consumed on a regular basis and your health situation. For example, someone who only has 1 cup of coffee per day for a year may have an easier time than someone who has been drinking 5 cups of coffee per day over 10 years.
Why is quitting coffee so hard for some people?
A lot of people have trouble quitting coffee for good. Some people can't do without it and they need to drink at least 4-5 cups a day just to function normally.
The caffeine in coffee stimulates production of dopamine, serotonin, and endorphins which are all happy chemicals that make us feel good when we drink it. But after a while, these same chemicals start to decrease instead of increase because our body's receptors start adapting to their presence in our system. This causes withdrawal symptoms such as headaches, nausea, fatigue, anxiety or depression which makes it difficult for some people to quit drinking coffee without experiencing any physical discomfort.
These symptoms make quitting hard because even if you want to quit your body may not let you.
Should I wean off caffeine or go cold turkey?
This depends. Going cold turkey on caffeine or coffee would have a higher chance working on someone who has perhaps 1-2 cups per day over a short period. You may not have such severe withdrawal symptoms.
However if you have been drinking 5-8+ cups of coffee daily for over 10 years, this may be a lot harder for your body to cope with the absence of caffeine (which can lead to unpleasant symptoms mentioned above). In this case, slowly weaning or tapering off your normal coffee intake may be the sensible solution. This way your body can take it easy adjusting to the reduction of coffee without enduring the withdrawal symptoms.
How do I avoid caffeine withdrawal symptoms?
If you have ever gone through withdrawal symptoms from quitting caffeine, you will know how miserable it feels.
Caffeine affects the central nervous system and heart rate and helps to increase wakefulness; when we stop drinking coffee, our body craves more because it's no longer getting its regular dose of caffeine. It’s the body’s way of reacting to the loss of daily caffeine intake.
There is no set amount of coffee that can be consumed before experiencing these symptoms, but many doctors recommend not drinking more than 400mg of caffeine per day
The good news is that these side effects go away after about 1 week without consuming any caffeine whatsoever.
However, if you’re finding the withdrawal symptoms are not subsiding, you may consider tapering or weaning off.
It's not easy to quit caffeine- so here are some strategies for gradually weaning yourself off caffeine:
- Slowly reduce your daily coffee intake. For example, drink one less cup of coffee every three days until you're down to zero cups per day.
Substitute caffeinated beverages with caffeine free delicious beverages. For example turmeric, matcha, beetroot lattes etc. Of course, if you’re looking for something that has a coffee aroma, you may consider straight chicory coffee or dandelion root tea which are both caffeine free. While these are great substitutes, you may find more robust and deeper earthy tones in blended coffee alternatives like Purify Coffee Tea.
Get yours here: Purify Coffee Tea
- Combine both strategies above. Mix your coffee with a coffee alternative like Purify Coffee Tea and slowly work your way down with the coffee % while increasing the Purify tea %. Keep doing this until you reach 100% Purify coffee tea.