How Quitting Caffeine Has Improved My Life

Is your coffee habit doing more harm than good?

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Photo by Izzie R on Unsplash

I stopped drinking caffeine this year, which is something of a surprise even to myself. Until a few months ago, I had never even considered quitting caffeine.

I was a daily caffeine drinker for most of my life. I normally started my day with a few cups of coffee and then transitioned over to soda in the afternoon and evening. Despite consuming caffeine so regularly, I never gave serious thought to the effects it was having on my mind and body.

To me, coffee and soda were simply tasty drinks. If I thought about the physical effects of caffeine at all, it was only to appreciate how it helped me wake up in the morning and stay focused throughout the day.

My thinking didn’t start to change until near the end of last year. I had spent the year fighting a much more serious addiction — smoking — and after finally succeeding at quitting, I found myself with a terrible case of insomnia.

Hoping to improve my sleep, I decided to quit caffeine as well.

Just two months later, I’m blown away by how many positive effects this decision has already had on my life. My original motivation was just to sleep better, but I was surprised to discover that quitting caffeine had a host of other benefits as well.

If I had realized how much quitting caffeine would have improved my life, I would have stopped years ago.

If you’ve never considered cutting caffeine, I’d strongly recommend at least giving it a try. It was relatively easy to stop (nowhere near as bad as quitting smoking), and has helped me feel much healthier. Here are some of the biggest benefits I’ve experienced since quitting:

Better Sleep

If you have trouble falling asleep at night, caffeine might be the culprit.

I started quitting caffeine by tapering down to fewer and fewer cups of coffee each day. By the time I was down to one cup, my sleep had already improved tremendously.

Then, I finally got to my first zero-caffeine day, and suddenly my sleep got much worse again. I felt so disappointed! The whole reason that I had stopped drinking caffeine was to sleep better, and suddenly my sleep was worse.

Fortunately, I was already experiencing other benefits from quitting caffeine, so I decided to stick with it. I fought through a few weeks of feeling tired, but then my sleep improved once again, and it has been fine ever since.

These nights I’m falling asleep much more easily and feeling better rested when I wake up.

Less Anxiety

The most shocking difference I noticed after quitting caffeine was a huge reduction in my anxiety.

I’ve struggled with anxiety for much of my life and quitting caffeine has had one of the biggest effects on reducing it that I’ve ever experienced.

After reading up on several caffeine research studies, I learned that the link between caffeine and anxiety is actually well-established. (See more here: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3777290/). This surprised me, because I’ve seen quit a few psychologists and therapists for anxiety, and had never even been asked about my caffeine intake.

My anxiety hasn’t disappeared completely, but it is greatly reduced. To anyone who experiences anxiety, I couldn’t recommend quitting caffeine enough.

More Consistent Energy

I was a little worried about quitting coffee and soda, because I felt like I depended on them to stay focused throughout the day. Any regular caffeine drinker knows how much a cup of coffee can help wake you up and keep you alert.

The truth is that since quitting caffeine I’m still never quite as high energy as I was right after a cup of coffee, but my average level of focus has increased.

Basically, I have a more consistent and higher energy throughout the day. I never get quite as alert as I was with caffeine, but I almost never feel groggy or “out of it” either.

Overall, I prefer this consistent energy level. It’s allowed me to be more productive at work and more relaxed at home.

Enjoying Water

Another concern that I had about quitting caffeine was that I wouldn’t have anything interesting to drink. I really liked the taste of soda and coffee, and worried that I would miss them too much to stay quit.

What I never expected was that water would start tasting much better after quitting soda and coffee.

Water has always had a neutral taste to me. I drank plenty of it, but just to stay hydrated, not for the taste.

These days though, water actually tastes good. I enjoy a glass of water in much the same way I used to enjoy a soda, but now my drink is healthier and cheaper.

Saving Money

One last good reason to quit caffeine is simply to save money. I drank about four cups of coffee (brewed at home) and four sodas a day, which adds up to about 3 or 4 dollars. That’s a savings of around $100 a month.

If you typically go to a coffee shop for your coffee, you’re likely paying even more.

Sure, it’s not the most expensive habit on earth, and quitting coffee isn’t going to turn you into a millionaire. But, it’s still a nice chunk of extra cash, and I’ve actually noticed the difference in my savings account.

Should You Quit Caffeine?

Caffeine is so ubiquitous that it’s easy to take it for granted and underestimate its potential harms. I spent years thinking that caffeine helped get me through the day, when it was mostly just making me more anxious.

It wasn’t until quitting caffeine that I finally started to realize just how much my coffee and soda habits were affecting my well-being. Now, I’d recommend a break from caffeine to anyone and everyone. After giving yourself some distance, you might be surprised to see just how much better you feel.

Written by

I’m a lawyer and teacher from North Carolina. I write about sobriety, mental health, running, and more.

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