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  • Pamela Carey

Why I Don’t Drink Coffee & How to Give Up Caffeine

Updated: Jun 17, 2023

Hi welcome back to the blog! Today we're going to be talking about caffeine. Why I gave it up, why you might choose to give it up as well, and how to do so if you decide to. If you prefer to watch on YouTube instead of reading, you can skip to the end where the video is embedded on the page.

I have had caffeinated coffee on average about maybe ten times over the past two years. There was a year where I basically gave it up completely. The reason why I did this is because I noticed that I slept so much better when I reduced it one time.

I cut it out because I had a cold, based on something I read. As we know, caffeine is a stimulant, so I read it can be more rejuvenating, healing, relaxing to completely cut it out during that time of healing when you are fighting something off. And yes, it did help. But a nice fringe side benefit I noticed was getting way more tired around 10:00 p.m. when I wanted to be winding down for bed. Often around midnight I sort of felt jazzed and energized and only just ready to wind down around then. And I wanted to be tired at 10:00! With cutting out caffeine, for reasons I'm going to get into in this blog, it will improve your sleep so much. We're also going to get into the neurobiology of it and how this works in different people's bodies. Let's jump in!

The first thing to know about caffeine is that it does not leave your system as quickly as one thinks it does.

If I asked you, if you have a medium cup of caffeinated coffee around 08:00 a.m., do you feel like that's gone from your system when you go to bed at night?

You would probably say yes, because on average the general thought is to try to have your caffeine before noon. And that does help. It does help to have it earlier in the day. But let's do some math. Let's say at 8:00 a.m., you have a coffee, maybe a medium, that might have about 120 milligrams of caffeine in it. At 2:00 p.m., half of that is gone from your system.

Caffeine has a half-life of on average for the average individual, 5 to 6 hours. That means that's how long it takes your body to get rid of half of it in your system. So that means 60 milligrams are in your system at 2:00 and at 8:00, 30 milligrams are in your system. And around 10:00 p.m., maybe around 20, 25 milligrams of caffeine when you're trying to go to bed.

That might not be a big deal for someone that's not very sensitive to it, but for some people, maybe their body gets rid of it even slower. Caffeine can have a half-life of 1.5 hours, all the way to 9.5 hours, depending on your body size, other substances, for example, if you smoke, or if you take oral contraceptives, and even anxiety levels can affect how you react to caffeine. This is why it's super important to work with a healthcare professional, because it does have an impact on blood pressure or all sorts of other factors such as pregnancy. So always work with your healthcare professional on this and follow their guidance. But even when it comes to anxiety, your doctor may not tell you to not have it, but maybe your therapist might recommend that you reduce, because it does have an impact on how you feel.

I personally gave up caffeine for the sleep benefits. However, some people certainly do for the health benefits or saving money, oral health. There's a lot of reasons that you might choose to do this. Sleep was where I noticed the biggest difference - because caffeine and alcohol both impact our sleep more than people realize.

For instance, in that example that I just gave you, let's say you have a second cup of coffee at 3:00 pm. You can run the numbers on that. If you have a one in the morning and one in the afternoon, it is definitely still in your system when you're going to bed. Even if you just cut out the second cup, you would sleep a lot better.

So I'm not saying that you have to give it up. For example, I still sometimes drink decaf, which does have some amounts of caffeine in it. Same with Kombucha or dark chocolate. I do the math on this. I will have about 32 milligrams on average max and try to do that earlier in the day so only trace amounts are in my system at bed time. If you have a dark chocolate bar, if you have some tea, if you have some decaf coffee, it absolutely can add up and before you know it, you've had the equivalent of a cup of regular caffeinated coffee. You can add it up and monitor your usage by using tools like this:

There's a lot more complicated neuroscience at play here. Of course, it affects dopamine and other things are going on, but one of the principal factors at play is that caffeine acts as an antagonist at the adenosine receptors, meaning that it is just delaying the sleepiness that you feel.

So it's not that it's necessarily just making you more awake directly, it's delaying your drowsy feelings. You can learn a lot about the neuroscience. It's really interesting. It can help with understanding how it's in your system, how it's affecting your body, how giving it up can help you sleep better. Or such as the dependency factors, like you do feel less wakeful without caffeine as you become dependent. However, by avoiding it, you can get recalibrated to a more original state and less dependent on it.

Knowing that everybody reacts to caffeine differently is one reason why you might be able to have some coffee and fall right asleep and your friend might drink a cup at 5:00 pm and not be able to sleep at all that night. Different people are more or less "efficient" at clearing it from our system.

So we really have to respect and listen to our bodies, which is why I challenge you to experiment with it. Don't take my word for it, don't take anyone's word for it, see for yourself. Don't even go with what your preference is. Genuinely see how it feels in your body. Like, yeah, really miss coffee, but I feel so much better without having caffeinated coffee that I still choose to avoid it on a regular basis.

If you were to follow this challenge and reduce intake to see how you feel, what I would recommend is to do it slowly. To eliminate headaches, what you could do is go from two cups to one cup over about a week, then go from a medium to a small over the course of another week. Then to a half cup a week or so later, and then switching over to decaf. You can do this over time so that you get either fewer headaches or hopefully no headaches at all. I think I only had headaches one or two days, just the day that I was switching from half a cup to decaf.

But of course, again, everybody's going to react differently and see how you sleep. Notice when you're getting tired, how wakeful you feel the next day. Notice how many times you're waking up in the night, how long it takes you to fall asleep lying in bed, all of that kind of stuff. Notice your energy levels during the day the next day. Now, again, this might take some time for your brain chemistry to recalibrate, for you to feel less hooked on it, and for you to feel back to feeling more energized without needing coffee in the morning. So try not to judge the process too quickly. Try to do it slowly and listen to your body. And the deeper your sleep is, the more restful your sleep is, the more energized you're going to feel during the day in the long run, once you're used to this. There is also a middle ground as mentioned before, and you can simply reduce instead of eliminating if that resonates more.

If you found this helpful, please share it with a friend, if any of your friends are considering giving up caffeine or unsure about it, or questioning your decision as to why you're giving it up.

Let me know in the comments below, what you think. Have you ever given up caffeine before, or have you considered it? I'd love to hear your experiences with this. So let me know how this works for you all or if you've done something similar.


Some Resources:


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