Quit coffee? Sacrilege. Coffee is one of America’s favorite addictions with an estimated 54% of the population drinking it annually. Most find comfort in this ritual, as well as a convenient way to stimulate the mind and get moving. I was daily coffee drinker for twelve years. However, as wakefulness crept more and more into my nightly routine, I eliminated everything but coffee to be my insomnia culprit. After some time and space away from caffeine, I discovered more and more areas coffee was interfering with my life. Here are eight reasons I quit.
Sleep is precious. As a one to two coffee morning drinker, it never really affected my sleep that much. However, as I got closer to 30, it was like a switch had been turned on. 11pm, 12am, 1am, 2am would crawl by on my alarm clock as I watch wide-eyed from my pillowed perch. When I finally did sleep, it was restless, tossing and turning until my alarm sounded off. Then, it was an irritable and depressing transition into my morning routine. Which brings me to my next point…
2. The Morning Drag
We’ve all been there, hitting the snooze once, twice, five times. The drag begins as an intense reluctance to get out of our warm beds and start the day. I was always so tired, so angry, so forlorn in the mornings. I needed my coffee badly. So what happened after I quit? No more drag. No more emotional pendulum, waking up into a cold cruel world and being rescued by my hot mug of shining armor. Now I wake up, refreshed from a deep night’s sleep, and within moments I am fully awake with no fuss.
3. The Roller Coaster
Drinking coffee is a ticket to a ride on a roller coaster. Start from the low point when you first wake up, to the high 45-60 minutes of drinking, to the inevitable crash a few hours later. After I quit, I was surprised at the lower, steady frequency each day would bring. “Is this what life is really like?” I would ask my coworker. I discovered I used coffee as a way to my my boring job more interesting, a cover up for what was a useless, mundane schedule. That’s when quitting coffee uncovered a useful truth: I needed to quit my job. I was using coffee as a way to make an unbearable experience more bearable, and the caffeine high was a mirage in my desert of a working life.
4. The Crash
Included in this roller coaster is the inevitable crash. For me, it was always in the afternoons around 3pm. It felt like I was half asleep, being dragged through the mud with my arms and legs weighed down with lead. Sometimes I would drink more coffee to wrench me out of it, though it would never have the same effect as the morning buzz. After quitting, this crash left, and I am left with a regular, consistent pulse keeping me wakeful throughout the day.
This is a big one. I didn’t realize it was caffeine that caused my anxiety attacks until after I stopped drinking coffee. Out of nowhere, my heart would beat too fast, my chest would constrict, my mind would race, and I couldn’t breathe. It was terrible. After the coffee was gone from my life, so were the anxiety attacks. Researchers say caffeine is a huge culprit from anxiety. After quitting and coming throught the other side, I believe it. I never experience the anxiety attacks anymore, and every day I am grateful.
I have always been a fan of drinking water, steadily throughout the day. I feel happier, healthier and more energetic. When I drank coffee, I always felt like I could never drink enough. It almost became an obsession, and if I went without a glass of water for more than a couple of hours, I would feel utterly parched. It was like wrinkles would appear on my face out of nowhere, and my skin had a hollowed, saggy texture. Without coffee in my life, I finally feel I can stay on top of being hydrated, and it enhances the consistent, steady energy levels throughout the day.
This may seem like a no-brainer, but the dependence factor can rear it’s angry head when you are trapped somewhere without access to coffee. This would literally ruin my day. Although it didn’t happen very often, I remember one time I found myself in a remote area visiting a friend who did not drink coffee. With no coffee places within thirty miles, I had to endure headaches, foggy brain and fight irritability for almost a week. The amount of control this beverage reined over my life was unacceptable.
8. The Price Tag
Although this is probably one of the most practical reasons, it was not one of the most important for me. I was such a slave to caffeine that I didn’t care about the 20+ dollars per week I would drop on impulse buying coffee drinks. Now that this addiction is no longer in my life, I am happy to hold on to the thousand or so dollars I am saving every year. When I realized that is enough to take a cool trip somewhere, my longing pangs for that steaming cup of joe evaporated.
These reasons reflect my own experience with quitting coffee, and while it doesn’t include the hellish experience of actually quitting, the long term benefits greatly outweigh the relatively short time it takes to get through it. My life as a whole has become clearer, more relaxed, and I actually believe I make better decisions because of it. If you are considering quitting, these are some great reasons to move you forward into your new caffeine-free life.