Are you one of the many people who can’t function in the morning without a serious jolt of joe? If so, you are far from alone. Countless Americans rely on caffeine to wake them up and power them through their day. However, quitting caffeine benefits you in many ways.
The added pep doesn’t come without detrimental health effects. Some of these you feel immediately, such as withdrawal headaches, while others take longer to appear. Here are six benefits I reaped from quitting caffeine — can cutting back also help you?
If you read this subheading and thought, “what? I couldn’t even function without caffeine,” please hear me out. I didn’t say I instantaneously had more energy. The change happened a bit more gradually, but the effects last.
At first, giving up my morning caffeine breakfast made me feel more sluggish than usual. Okay. The first day, I thought I might need a nap before lunch.
However, as time progressed, my natural energy levels began to regulate throughout the day. Caffeine increases alertness by changing chemical processes in your brain, but you get a nasty rebound when your body fully metabolizes the substance. As a result, you feel more exhausted than you did before.
You probably know that enjoying a big cup of black joe at 9 p.m. isn’t the best way to get to bed early. However, even moderate caffeine consumption can alter the timing of your internal sleep clock, reducing your total sleep time. While less shuteye might seem like a benefit, prolonged deprivation can have severe adverse health effects.
For example, your body produces proteins called cytokines during sleep that play a crucial role in regulating your body’s inflammatory response. A lack of shuteye could result in a decreased immune response.
Furthermore, drowsy driving is dangerous — it’s as bad as tipping a few back before taking the wheel. You risk accidents where you could hurt yourself or others.
I did replace my morning — and afternoon — coffee cravings. However, I stayed away from caffeine-laden soda. Instead, I replaced those beverages with flavored fruit water and herbal tea.
Many herbal teas have considerable health benefits. Chamomile and lavender, for example, gently help you relax. Mixing fruit with your water infuses it with antioxidants and other nutrients without adding unwanted calories. If you want a delicious sparkling beverage that’s chemical-free, add a few drops of monk fruit or stevia extract and use a SodaStream or similar device to carbonate your drink.
Using caffeine to stay up to all hours might make you gain unwanted pounds. You snack more when you stay awake longer, but that’s not the only issue. Ongoing insomnia also alters your metabolic processes, prompting your body to store fat.
I noticed the difference in my sleep patterns within a week of quitting caffeine. I didn’t suffer from terrible insomnia before, but I noticed that I felt much more rested when I awoke. Of course, losing those extra 400+ calories from sugary lattes probably helped my weight loss efforts, too.
If you have anxiety, your biggest benefit from quitting caffeine might come from reducing your symptoms. The same neurochemical processes that perk you up can also increase feelings of panic. One 2005 study revealed that this substance could produce psychiatric symptoms typical of anxiety and psychosis.
The problem compounds if you take certain medications that amplify caffeine’s effects. For example, if you use over-the-counter decongestants containing pseudoephedrine, like Sudafed, you could find yourself extremely jittery after one cup of joe. While you’ll probably recover, constant use can cause severe problems like increased blood pressure and heart rate.
If you have a diagnosed disorder, talk to your treatment provider about quitting caffeine. They might be able to suggest a regimen to help you cut down gradually, minimizing withdrawal effects.
If you spend $6 at the coffee shop each morning, your purchases add up to over $2,000 a year. That’s more than enough to take a nice vacation — how’s that for motivation to quit?
I made saving my money from quitting caffeine a challenge to not fall into the trap of substituting my indulgence with something else. After a month, I treated myself to a spa day that was way yummier than a sugary coffee shop beverage.
I’m grateful that I quit caffeine — the benefits are well worth it. Why don’t you give it a try and see what perks your reap?