How many cups of coffee do you drink each day? Almost two-thirds of Americans drink coffee every day, and even more (>90%) consume caffeine in general. You’ve likely been drinking it for so long that you’re completely oblivious to how your life can markedly improve without it!
You may have tried cutting caffeine out in the past (definitely not fun), only to get back on the train once that headache kicked in and your alertness fell through the floor. Don’t despair – if you can get through those first few days of the detox, there will be rewards at the other end of the tunnel.
Depending on how much you were consuming, you'll likely notice much better sleep, a reduction in overall anxiety, fewer trips to the bathroom, and even a reduction in the frequency of headaches… the very thing you often took caffeine to help with!
Yes, I know it sucks, but if you're hung up on that daily cup (or two, or three) of coffee, it's going to negatively impact your sleep. This is especially true if you're having any in the evening -- the half-life of caffeine is around 4-6 hours, so an afternoon cup of coffee is still going to leave around 30% of its caffeine floating around your bloodstream by the time you go to sleep.
Caffeine works on your adenosine receptors. Adenosine is important in regulating sleep, and especially so for deep sleep. Caffeine lowers adenosine’s activity by blocking your adenosine receptors (it structurally “looks” like caffeine). It’s quite simple - get rid of the caffeine, and bring back the shut eye!
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Not only is adenosine important for sleep regulation, it’s also important as an anxiolytic (read: it reduces anxiety). This is why caffeine can give you the jitters, and can cause rebound anxiety once it wears off. Quitting caffeine can ultimately have a large impact on reducing anxiety in many people – and let’s be honest, who doesn’t need a little help with anxiety reduction in this world?
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Yeah, you read that right! While caffeine is included in many OTC meds to help with the dreaded headache, it also is a contributor to them in the first place. Adenosine acts as a powerful vasodilator, increasing cerebral blood flow – vasodilation is commonly linked to headaches as a major contributor. This is why caffeine can (temporarily) alleviate them – it's a vasoconstrictor and can reverse this effect. While this is great in the short-term, in the longer term you can build a tolerance to the substance and find yourself more reliant on it just to keep headaches at bay.
This is one of the reasons headaches are one of the most commonly reported effects of the infamous caffeine detox – you’re normalizing your adenosine receptor activity. However, it’s well worth the reward if you can push through them and get to the other side!
Caffeine acts as a mild diuretic, so you may notice yourself needing to go to the bathroom more often than you otherwise would. For those getting up in the middle of the night, this can be especially problematic.
This one may raise quite a few eyebrows, but a 2014 study showed that caffeine consumption reduced collagen synthesis in a dose-dependent manner. Take it for what it’s worth, but tossing out that morning cup might also be part of your new anti-aging skin regimen!
Getting off caffeine can be quite difficult especially for avid consumers, but it’s definitely rewarding – I know as I’ve been through it myself! For those trying to wean off without eliminating caffeine completely, you might also try looking into green tea or “mushroom” coffee.
I’ve personally found the most beneficial effects cutting it out entirely, but to each their own!
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