Are you wondering what you may need to quit caffeine? We think nothing of making ourselves a fresh hot cup of Joe in the morning, so we can fuel our groggy mornings. There’s nothing wrong with that at all, everything in moderation as they say. But the keyword is ‘moderation’ and it seems to be the thing that we may take aim at, but miss very often. However, caffeine is both the hero and the culprit in our morning sunshine. We love that it gives us a boost, but hate the come-down when the caffeine wears off and we feel just as, if not more tired than we did before we took a sip. So we drink more and stronger coffee to get around this, and before you know it we are addicted to it. Caffeine just seems to be the stuff we can’t put down. But there are ways you can quit caffeine and find a more suitable and sustainable replacement.
How addictive is caffeine?
In order to quit caffeine we need to understand how it works. Caffeine is a stimulant that goes straight to our central nervous system. This is key to comprehend as it's not like sugar or other stimulants in that it doesn’t go straight to the muscles as glucose. The central nervous system is our conveyor belt that connects electric signals from our brain to our body. When it is stimulated, it can cause an abrupt ‘speed up’ effect in that it quickens the relay of messages from the body to the brain and vice versa, until you have both things running at an abnormally high speed.
This can also cause our nervous system to become physically dependent on caffeine in order to feel as if it has the extra juice to function properly or at a high rate. Just like most other drugs, we tend to feel like we can’t operate without them and thus, a vicious cycle begins. You will feel as if you cannot function without a cup of coffee first. This can lead to reliance issues, centered around confidence or feeling like ‘you’. This can mean your whole personality changes due to this addiction.
How long does it take to get addicted to caffeine?
Studies have shown that around 100mg of caffeine per day can make you become addicted. It's not conclusive as to how long it would take to become addicted to caffeine. Part of it is to do with your lifestyle. If you are up early every morning, you tend to drink coffee ritually and this becomes an additional factor. You may only drink coffee a couple of times a week, only when you need an extra boost to finish the working day.
So, you should always take a pinch of salt with any story you hear about someone becoming addicted to caffeine in a matter of days. It's far more likely that it will take weeks or months. If you have caffeine at least once a day, that doesn’t seem to be too bad. If you have more than 2 or 3 cups of coffee a day, then you will become addicted in a matter of weeks. Usually, it takes about 1-2 months, so 7-8 weeks. However, we must say that it all depends on the strength of your system. It could take longer or it could be sooner.
How much caffeine is considered an addiction?
Caffeine is not as serious as other addictions but once again, it really does depend on the severity and therefore longevity of the addiction. Someone who has become addicted to caffeine after a year of hard caffeine intake will find it very difficult to quit caffeine. It's not as potent as other drugs and we can find other ways around it, but it is still serious.
Caffeine withdrawals can give you severe mood swings, especially if you have a stressful job. Many people who work in law firms, financial markets, and in managerial roles take caffeine in order to help them stay on the ball. When they no longer have their caffeine buddy to hold their hand, they can become short-tempered, lack confidence and in some cases even have panic attacks.
Caffeine can become serious in certain situations, such as during bedtime. When you cannot come off of your caffeine high in time, as you are unable to wind down from work, it can lead to insomnia. This is when caffeine addiction starts to have a knock-on effect. If you can’t get enough sleep, your motor-neuron skills will diminish. During the day you may start to yawn more, longer blinking time and this can lead to also becoming more irritated easily. Not good if you work in a team and need to be open and cooperative.
Caffeine addiction symptoms
So if you want to quit caffeine, you need to know what you’re fighting inside you first. If you quit caffeine abruptly without some kind of another similar but less potent stimulant, you will feel symptoms of withdrawal. These can include…
- Constant yawning
- Heavy muscles
- Concentration deficit
- Involuntary movements
- High heart rate
- Dry mouth
- Acute sense of hearing
- Speaking too fast
These are just some of the symptoms you may experience if you are addicted to caffeine. If you would like to quit caffeine, it's important you realize if you have any of these symptoms now. This way, when you start to proactively get better, you can track your progress in the certain categories you are or were affected.
How do you know if you are addicted to coffee?
Symptom-tracking may not come so easy to some folk. That’s understandable. To quit caffeine is to comprehend what is psychologically happening to you as well. The psychological aspects of caffeine addictions are far more subtle once you have actually become addicted. Taking in too much caffeine will become like second nature, you won’t even think about it.
If you feel like you can’t leave the house without a cup of coffee in your hand, instead of a smoothie, tea, juice or water, then you might be addicted. If you feel like you cannot make a presentation to the office, unless you have a shot of caffeine to energize you first, then the same dangers may be present.
If you seem to have a personality deficiency that kind of relies on caffeine to be the type of person you want to be, such as energetic, fun, enthusiastic or happy, then you may be addicted! If you have any of the symptoms on a regular basis, this is a surefire sign that you are addicted and it's time you took the proper steps to quit caffeine.
How long is caffeine withdrawal?
It's hard to say, it all depends on the type of person you are and the effect of caffeine on your system. Many people who try to quit caffeine go about it the wrong way. They go cold turkey and this just angers the caffeine gods who then proceed to make you suffer through awful withdrawal symptoms. A caffeine withdrawal can last up to 12 hours or more. That is extremely important to understand. A caffeine withdrawal will last an entire day and during work, you will feel tired and irritable, so you might give in and just grab a cup of coffee. But that’s not all. Your initial symptoms might only last for 12 hours, but if you still haven’t had caffeine yet, then they may last as a combination for the next 24-48 hours.
You will feel groggy, tired, slow, unable to fully concentrate on what you’re doing and start to think tempestuous thoughts about drinking coffee. For cases that are more severe, to quit caffeine is a true ordeal. Symptoms of withdrawal can last for more than a week. They will be intense and demanding.
How long does it take to detox from caffeine?
Almost every single person that has quit caffeine has gone on to say how liberated they feel. It can change your life completely when you quit caffeine for good. But what puts many people off is the false notion that the road to recovery is long and hard. Not true. It may be true for other drugs but not when you want to quit caffeine.
The key is to replace your stimulant with some other stimulant that is less harmful but gives you the same sort of buzz you are after.
To detox fully, it should take about a month or so.
Try to limit your cup of coffee by just one or two. It's easy to find an excuse such as you're’ working late or you feel extra tired today. But if you hold onto your discipline you won’t fall for such shallow mental gymnastics! It may take you longer to fully wake up and for your brain to be operating without the fogginess of early mornings. That is just fine, don’t worry too much. Also, let people know that you are trying to battle your caffeine addiction, if they seem curious or think you are behaving abnormally.
Find another stimulant. You can replace your caffeine boost for a sugar boost. This can be done with drinking more fruit smoothies, as they have lots of natural sugars which give your body a great boost of energy. You can blend coffee with fruit smoothies or another stimulant.
You must go to a ratio of 60-40 or 70-30 regarding a mix of stimulants. Now your main stimulant could be something totally natural like fruit smoothies, berries, honey-roasted nuts or brown sugar candy treats.
Now you should try to limit your stimulants altogether. Cut them down by half or two-thirds. To quit caffeine you must also try to quit it's replacement. So now is the time to only drink one cup a day or take a day off from drinking caffeine before having another cup. This way you only have 3-4 cups a week.
Can you flush caffeine out of your system?
Of course you can. This is the whole point of detoxing. You want to rid your system of caffeine. To quit caffeine takes guts but it also takes common sense. If you drink more water throughout the day, you will naturally flush your system of all toxins and additives. Caffeine is among the things you will flush out and that can be done without too much bother.
One of the best things you can do for yourself, in order to quit caffeine, is to start working out. You can detox with water but you can also detox by sweating out the toxins. Make sure you are doing an activity that elevates your heart rate. So swimming, running, or aerobics are the top three recommended types of workout you should be doing.
If you don’t have the time to do this and want an easier method, it's recommended that you simply go cold turkey for a day. In about 10-12 hours your body will have used up the caffeine and it will now be waste that is dispelled from the body. You can also eat high-fiber foods which absorb a lot of the liquids we drink. This will allow for a slow release of caffeine and it won’t overload your system. So eat nuts, vegetables and starchy foods like bread and whole wheat pasta.
Perhaps one of the things that cause us to drink way more coffee than we should, is the fact that our lifestyle is so hectic. When caffeine becomes a fuel rather than something we can take the time to enjoy, we are heading down a bad road. To quit caffeine, we have to change our lifestyle. Instead of relying on coffee to wake us up in the morning, we should get up earlier instead, so our body has time to start up naturally. This does require that we go to sleep earlier as well. We need a good solid 8 hours of sleep, and about 1 hour to fully be awake. So, if you start work at 9, then wake up at 7am every time. That means you need to go to bed at about 10pm, since it might take 30-minutes to an hour to reach the lands of Narnia.
A proper bedtime is not all, you need to work on your daytime lifestyle too. When you are at work, you need some outlets for stress and better time management. It can be daunting to do these changes at first, because you may already have a routine. But, you kind of know when you go for a cup of coffee. It might be lunchtime, once more in the afternoon and maybe once more on your way home. Can you cut out one of these? Find some way to limit your caffeine intake during the day and replace it with something less potent like decaf iced tea.