It’s been almost a year since I cut off my relationship with caffeine, so let me explain how it all went down.
Caffeine and I have a very long and intimate relationship. I was one of those kids that would come home and start guzzling down a 2-liter of Pepsi. Caffeine really had no effect on me anymore, and the only time I felt any repercussions was when I didn’t have my fix for that day. I would be up all hours of the night and sleep in as long as I could on the weekends, which was fine at that age, but once I started college my sleeping habits really started to come back at me.
In college, I would be tossing and turning till 2, 3, sometimes 4 in the morning and then I would wake up at 8am and do it all again. I tried different sleeping pills but they only ever made me feel sick. But honestly, I just felt sick all the time anyway. I hated water; my tongue craved the excess sugars I’ve been ingesting all my life. When I couldn’t drink some sort of pop or sugary drink, I would develop a terrible thirst and dry mouth. It really turned into a problem early on, but I was too afraid to admit it. I don’t smoke or do drugs, I rarely drink (I’m of age), so I figured, “what could be the harm in this habit of mine?”
I felt like a zombie. My mind and body were always lethargic and I started to have some academic deficiencies. It honestly felt like I was dying with how sick and depressed I was feeling all the time and I really wanted to find a way to better myself. So one day I sat down for dinner, grabbed a water, and just thought, “this is going to be the day I change.” I didn’t trust myself enough to wean off of it, so I stopped cold-turkey. I’ll be honest, it was miserable. It still is some days. But let me talk you through my own experience of fighting caffeine withdrawal.
Just a side-note: everyone’s experience with addiction is completely unique to them. Quitting cold-turkey is not the best option for everyone, and your own experiences from caffeine withdrawal can be drastically different than my own.
So. Many. Headaches.
It’s true. Most people will develop horrible migraines from the withdrawal. Mine were at their worst with nausea for about three days, and then slowly subsided over the next week.
The intense thirst.
No matter how much water I drank, I was just always thirsty. It was such an intense thirst, one that craved the taste and carbonation of that sweet, sugary nectar. But just as a general warning, if your sugar intake was as bad as mine and that intense thirst continues, it could be a sign of diabetes. You know your body better than anyone, so if something doesn’t seem right then don’t be afraid to talk to your doctor.
Depression and Anxiety.
Now, I have a very personal experience with these two things. The withdrawal did not cause these disorders but rather exasperated my pre-existing conditions. If you are planning on cutting out caffeine, then just know that it does get better, but never be afraid to talk to someone if you’re having any emotional problems. We care about you.
I peed. A lot.
Again, could be a sign of diabetes, but the intense thirst caused an intense intake of water, which caused an intense cleansing of my bladder. And for the first time in a long time, my urine was very clear. I was finally adequately hydrating myself.
I started to fall asleep earlier.
This took a couple weeks, but even still I often am in bed by 11pm and awake before 9am; even on weekends. I wake up with a much clearer mind and often when I’m up and awake, I’m ready to go for the day.
I lost 15lbs.
This was over the first few months, but cutting out the sugary drinks and caffeine brought down some of my weight. And most of the weight was belly fat, so it made me feel more confident about my self-image.
I never really have the urge to drink caffeine, but the craving for sugary drinks is definitely still there. Every once in a while I’ll buy some caffeine-free Pepsi, but my stomach can’t really handle a lot of the sugar and carbonation anymore. Which, for me, is a good thing.
It was tough in the beginning, but do I miss caffeine? Not at all. Do I recommend you do the same as me? Well, it depends on you. My biggest advice is that you have to commit if you choose to kick it out. Be stubborn with yourself and plan accordingly (the first week or so is the hardest, so don’t do it during an exam week or something). And if it’s too hard to cut it out, just try limiting it a couple weeks at a time. As long as you try your hardest, you’re doing nothing wrong.