Recognize the warning signs and learn how to break the habit
Caffeine can be the best friend for many of us with busy, sleep-deprived lives. Have you relied on large pots of coffee or too many cans of soda—not just to push through a study session for an important test or a long shift at work, but just to get through the day? Do you need coffee in the morning to wake up and then again throughout the day to feel energized and alert? If you feel sluggish, deflated, irritable if you miss your daily dose, these may be signs that you’re physically addicted. That’s something to pay attention to.
What is caffeine?
Caffeine is a highly addictive drug that stimulates the nervous system. It is most commonly found in coffee, tea, soda, energy drinks, and even some over-the-counter medicines. Caffeine in moderation won't generally cause problems, but, if you consume too much, you may experience shaky hands, anxiety, trouble sleeping, or a nose dive in your energy once the caffeine is out of your system. Drinking more than 10 8-ounce cups of coffee on a daily basis can lead to these side effects. If you’re experiencing any of them, it may be time to consider adjusting your caffeine intake.
Signs of caffeine withdrawal
If your body becomes used to your daily consumption of caffeine, and then you decide to decrease the amount or cut it out, you may experience one or all of the following symptoms (the severity depends on the amount of caffeine you normally ingest on a daily basis):
- Feeling your brain is “foggy”
- Trouble focusing
How to break the habit
Kicking a caffeine habit normally takes about 7–12 days. Most withdrawal symptoms show up 12–24 hours after you last consumed the caffeine, and then may last for a day or two.
Whether you want to give up caffeine completely, or are just looking to cut down on the amount, here are a few suggestions to get you heading in the right direction:
- Drink teas or soda without caffeine
- Drink decaffeinated coffee
- Mix caffeinated and decaffeinated coffee
- Skip energy drinks
- Read over-the-counter medicines and avoid those with caffeine
Another approach is to treat the underlying need for caffeine in the first place. Are you routinely sleep deprived? Put yourself to bed sooner! Is your bedroom not conducive to a restful night sleep? Look into how you can improve your sleep hygiene to support you waking up feeling more rested and less desperate for that cup of coffee in the morning.
Finally, look for other, healthier ways to get an energy boost from your diet. The foods you eat can have a big impact on how you feel throughout the day, and you might be feeling sluggish because you’re not eating enough protein, or getting a variety of vitamins and minerals. It’s worth taking a look and doing some experimenting. If you’re using caffeine to come back from sugar crashes, you’re treating the side effects of one drug with another!
As with most things in life, moderation is key. If your caffeine intake is moderate, it most likely won't lead to adverse symptoms. However, if you've been advised by a medical professional to cut out or cut down on caffeine, listen to the advice. Once you get past the withdrawal symptoms, you may find you feel better and more energized without caffeine!
This post is part of the Seacoast Career Schools’ weekly blog. We care about the health and wellness of all of our students. If you're interested in a professional training program, contact us today to find out more, or to schedule a tour.