If you travel all over the world you will find some form of caffeine just about anywhere. The Brits drink their black tea, while in Japan they have their matcha green tea. In Paraguay they drink Maté, which is a drink made from a yerba maté infusion. Nearly every continent in the world has found a form of caffeine to drink or eat. Which makes it hard to imagine how functioning caffeine free could ever be possible.
Why is caffeine so universally popular, you ask? Because caffeine is a natural stimulant. It wakes you up, gives you energy, makes you feel good, and can even make you more productive. With all of these benefits, why would you not want to wake up with a cup of coffee every morning?
If you ingest caffeine on a regular basis and/or in large quantities, it can really interrupt your sleeping habits and can cause lasting negative effects on your health. So whether you are trying to cut out caffeine because you are pregnant, suffering from anxiety, have high blood pressure, or just to sleep better, we are here to help. Getting caffeine out of your system can be quite difficult at first, but there are ways to stay awake and live a caffeine free life. Keep reading to learn why and how to cut out the caffeinated beverages.
Why cut caffeine?
If you have already decided for health reasons that you are ready to cut the caffeine then you can skip this section. However, if you want to know some of the benefits for the average healthy person to quit caffeine, we are happy to share.
Of course, at Our Sleep Guide, this is our major concern. Sleeping is our specialty and caffeine can wreck havoc on your sleep schedule. Caffeine tends to stay in your system for 4-6 hours.
However, even those who would stop drinking caffeine before noon, reported that they slept better after eliminating caffeine from their diet all together.
For many migraine sufferers caffeine can be a huge contributor. If you accidentally skip your morning coffee it could trigger a headache, if you have an extra cup it could trigger a headache.
This can become a nightmare if you are attempting to balance your caffeine intake every single day. By completely cutting it out of your diet, you no longer have to play the balancing game.
Regulate Mood Swings
Getting off of caffeine can regulate your energy levels and even your mood. When you are no longer dependent on a drink to get you up in the morning or perk you up in the afternoon, you tend to have less dips in energy and mood through the day. Therefore you won’t be that grumpy “Don’t talk to me until after my coffee” person ever again.
If you are struggling with stress and anxiety, caffeine is going to only make things worse. Often times the sensations of anxiety are very similar to the sensations of high doses of caffeine can give you. (Sweaty palms, racing heart rate, nausea, etc.) This is why it can trigger anxiety attacks. It can also heighten emotions causing a stressed or anxious person to feel higher levels of stress and anxiety. Therefore by slowly cutting out caffeine these symptoms will alleviate quickly.
Lower Blood Pressure
Caffeine tends to raise your blood pressure by a few points and it also increases heart rate. So every time you have caffeine you’re heart is working harder than it needs to. This is why cutting caffeine can help lower your blood pressure. It is important especially if you have heart troubles to lower or eliminate your caffeine intake.
Unless you are only getting your caffeine for free from the office, then you are likely spending some cash on your caffeine.
Even worse, if you are getting a specialty drink every single day from Starbucks, you could save some major cash by cutting out your daily frappuccino. So if you want to add a few extra bucks back into your wallet, cutting these seemingly small expenses can create a big impact.
Caffeine and Sleep – The Science Behind The Struggle
One of the most obvious effects caffeine can have on your sleep is that it can make it difficult to fall asleep. As a stimulant, caffeine is naturally built to keep you moving and energetic.
It is going to be quite difficult to get to sleep when you’re fighting with caffeine to do so. Even if you are not drinking it at night, a study has shown that caffeine, even when drank 6 hours before bedtime, still has an affect of reducing overall sleep time.
To understand how caffeine effects your sleep, you first need to understand how it works as a stimulant. Caffeine blocks Adenosine from making its neural connections. This is because caffeine binds with the same receptors that Adenosine needs to work properly.
Adenosine is a chemical that promotes sleep by slowing down neural activity. When caffeine intercepts this activity, it prevents the body from slowing down neural activity and instead, speeds it up. Giving you that boost of energy and focus.
When you have been awake and working for a while, the body has chemicals like Adenosine and hormones like Melatonine that are created to give the body sleepy sensations and promote sleep naturally. This is the bodies way of regulating energy and storing enough for another days work.
When we intervene with this natural system it can throw off your circadian rhythms, making it difficult for our bodies to get the proper signals for sleep. Which causes issues like generic bad sleep and even insomnia.
Caffeine Withdrawal Symptoms
Especially if you are an avid caffeine drinker, it can be quite the shock to the system if you quit cold turkey. Start with becoming very aware of exactly how much caffeine you are taking in and then slowly reduce how much you are drinking everyday. By quitting slowly, it may help you to prevent or lessen the severity of any withdrawal symptoms you may experience.
Migraines and Headaches are one of the first symptoms you may experience while dropping caffeine. You may start experiencing headaches as soon as 72 hours after you last had caffeine.
They typically starts behind your eyes and works its way up your head. They can be very uncomfortable, if you need to take pain medication be sure you avoid any with caffeine or else you will likely have to go through this headache again later.
This one should not come as a surprise, you may find that without your caffeine that you feel very tired. However, this should pass in time and you body will regulate back to normal energy levels. Keep reading this article for different tips we have on how to stay alert and awake during this transition.
Having trouble staying alert at the office? Check out our article How To Stay Awake At Work
The irritability typically begins around 48-72 hours after your last caffeinated beverage. It should not be too intense. However, you might want to give your family, friends, and coworkers a heads up. This can last quite some time especially if the irritability comes from the hole in your daily routine. See if you can find caffeine free replacement that you can add to your routine instead.
If your body has adjusted to the pep that caffeine can give your digestive system it may struggle when you first get off of it. Make sure you stay as hydrated as possible, this will help to keep things moving, if you know what we mean.
One of the struggles of going caffeine free is that it can be found in so many places that you wouldn’t expect. You would be surprised by some of the different drinks and foods that contain caffeine in them. For starters… Decaf Coffee?
That’s right, despite the name, decaf coffee still contains caffeine. While it is much lower in caffeine than the standard cup, it is still caffeinated. Switching to decaf coffees and teas can be a great step in the right direction if you are wanting to slowly transition to zero caffeine. Or if you are simply wanting to lower the level of caffeine you are ingesting daily.
Cocoa naturally has a level of caffeine in it, you will find that the darker the chocolate, the higher percentage of caffeine it will have. This also means you need to watch out for chocolate flavored foods including but not limited to Pudding, Ice Cream, Frozen Yogurt, and even Cereal.
The natural hormone shifts can cause drowsiness and headaches. Caffeine can help relieve both of these symptoms and therefore it is added to many PMS medications. If you need the relief there are caffeine free PMS medication options on the market, just be sure to read the labels.
When dropping caffeine you may find that you begin to suffer from headaches. In fact, caffeine withdrawals are a common cause for migraines. So you will find caffeine in many headache pain killers like Excedrin or Anacin. There is also caffeine free Excedrin on the market as well as other migraine and headache specified painkillers that can help you get passed the headaches.
Now that you can add caffeine without the flavoring of tea or coffee, it can catch you off guard. Like the Bai Antioxidant drinks that pack a whopping 70mg per bottle. So keep an eye on anything new that you start drinking or eating as they may contain caffeine.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration, does not require manufacturers to list naturally occurring caffeine on nutrition labels. So even if it isn’t listed on the label, you new tea or chocolate dessert may still contain a low level of caffeine.
Stay Awake WITHOUT Caffeine
The good news is, even if you do nothing to replace your caffeine, eventually your body will naturally take over and regulate your energy levels. While you won’t get those highs from caffeine, you also won’t have to crash either. However, if you are needing a little extra help getting out of bed, we have a few tips to help you get that extra kick to stay awake even without caffeine.
Vitamins & Supplements
Ginseng, Vitamin D, Vitamin B12, French Oak Wood Extract and Iron can all help to get your energy levels up, especially if you are missing these vitamins from your diet or if your body has issues absorbing these vitamins from what you eat. Note that timing can be vital when it comes to vitamins.
Some of them, like Ginseng and B Vitamins could keep you up at night. While other vitamins like Magnesium promote sleep. We suggest reading into everything you take, even if it is a multi-vitamin to determine what time of day is best to take them.
Drinking water is an important part of keeping your body from shutting down on you. By staying well hydrated you will naturally have more energy to spare. A cold glass of water is also a great tool to keep at your desk for that refreshing sip whenever you need it.
If you are exercising regularly you will have more energy to spare throughout the rest of your days. Now if you start with heavy workouts when you are not used to it, you might be more exhausted before you see the light. However, we urge you to keep going. You will be amazed by the amount of energy you will have when you are working out on a regular basis. It is also a great way to get your blood pumping in the morning.
If you are wanting a boost in a drink form, unsweetened coconut water is a great option. It is packed full of B vitamins that naturally boost energy levels.
Many high sugar and carb based diets (found in a lot of low fat diets) have a negative effect on your energy levels. While you may get a sugar high at first, you will soon experience a drop in blood sugar causing severe lethargy and mood swings. While on the other side of the spectrum, diets that are high in healthy fats, proteins, and complex carbs are helpful for creating healthy cognitive connections and support energy levels.
Fruits & Veggies
Vegetables and fruits are full of vitamins, sugar, and fiber. This is a great combination that you don’t want to mess with too much. Eating them raw is truly best. Just a quick warning against juicing. If you juice the fruit or vegetable, you will get the same amount of nutrients and sugar but the fiber will be gone. The fiber is what makes you feel full and it slows down the digestion process. When the digestion process is slowed down, this means the sugar enters your system slowly which will then decrease the spike and crash process that sugar tends to create. When you drink juice rather than eating the fruit or veggie, the sugar will rush your system and cause a blood sugar spike. So if you are going to enjoy fruits and vegetables, we suggest eating them whole.
Struggling to stay awake during your classes? You might like our blog How To Stay Awake In Class.
Final Thoughts – How to Go Caffeine Free
If you decide that cutting caffeine is the way to go for you, then we hope these tips and tricks help you to get through the transition process and gives you the fuel to stick to your decision. Caffeine free is totally doable and if you stick to it, it can have many health benefits including helping you sleep better and feel better rested throughout your day.
If you have any questions or just want to reach out, feel free to contact us. We would love to help you out.