I love coffee. I love the taste of it, the smell of it, the ritual of drinking it, and the feeling it brings. To me, coffee is energizing, euphoric, and a staple in my day. Over the course of about 10 years, it grew to be a 3-4 cups per day staple.
I saw no problem with this. I was treating myself to something I loved. It made me feel happier, more productive. What I didn’t see was how it was affecting my anxiety, my sleep, and my wallet.
So, why did I stop drinking coffee?
But let’s back up a bit. In November 2018, I started to have sleep issues. Before then, I’d been the type of person that passed out as soon as my head hit the pillow. I could sleep on command. I’ve fallen asleep in the car surrounded by loved ones all awake and talking because it was late at night and I value my sleep that much. So when these issues hit, I was shocked and confused and realized I needed to take a deeper look at my lifestyle.
I have healthy sleep hygiene. I relax at night with epsom salt baths, sleepytime tea, and occasionally yoga. I work out regularly, I eat pretty well, I try to manage my stress. I know exactly how important sleep is to a healthy lifestyle. So what could be causing this issue?
Besides overthinking it and not managing my stress as well as I thought I was, it was brought to my attention that my caffeine consumption should be looked at. I was not excited by the thought, but I’ll rise to a good challenge with a clear purpose. So in December 2018, I started my journey to cut my coffee consumption from 3-4 cups/day down to 1.
How did I cut my caffeine consumption?
I’m not a cold-turkey kind of person–I don’t believe that large, black and white changes all done at once create sustainable, lasting change (i.e. my healthy habits program that I created to completely combat this notion). So I started by cutting down to 2 cups/day for 2 weeks. I used to drink a cup of coffee right when I woke up (5:30/6 AM) then another when I got to work (8:30/9 AM) then another when I needed an afternoon pick-me-up (1-3 PM). The first cup I decided to cut was my mid-morning “when I get to work” coffee. This was pretty easy–I never really felt like I needed that cup since I was still buzzing from the first, it was more out of habit that I drank it.
Once I had comfortably shifted to 2 cups/day for 2 weeks, I cut down to 1 cup. This time, I decided to cut my very first cup of coffee and my afternoon cup, and go back to having a cup when I got to work. This change was much harder. Working out without caffeine was a big change for me at first, and when the afternoon slump hit, I struggled. I’ve found that caffeine-free herbal tea helps (especially this herbal elements blend) and so does decaf. But as the days have gone on, I’ve found that I’m even less reliant on those substitutes.
How do I feel now, 1 month into less caffeine?
I’m amazed that throughout this process I didn’t suffer from any headaches or true withdrawal symptoms. I did try to go totally caffeine-free one day and felt like my brain wouldn’t turn on, so I ordered a half-caff Pike’s Place from Starbucks (a girl’s still gotta get work done, right?!). I plan on sticking with half-caff for another few days and then trying to go coffee-free for awhile. I want to make coffee a treat again (and save some money in the process!).
I’ve also found that since January 2, 2019, I no longer have sleep issues. The first day I shifted to 1 cup/day was January 1. Now, I have made a lot of other adjustments (including meditation, gratitude journaling, and melatonin) but I can’t deny that I’ve felt less anxious and less “tired but wired” since I’ve embarked on this journey.