Caffeine Free Me: What I've learnt
I'm sitting in my friend Freya's dining room enjoying my first coffee in around three months. I feel a bit jittery and definitely more chatty than usual, which sucks for Freya who needs all the essay motivation she can get. I've spoken about caffeine before on my old blog, but I feel like we need an update.
Basically, when I was younger I didn't really drink caffeine. Even when I was at high school I'd have the occasional tea, but no drinks religiously. It wasn't until I moved to Turkey when I was 20 that I got really into the buzz. Turkish people's day revolve around hot beverages from delicious cinnamon infused coffee in the morning to Ceylon chai well into the evening. In fact, in can be considered quite rude if you don't partake.
My tolerance was really low as you can imagine, but early mornings meant I started sharing the coffee my housemates would brew when I woke up. It wasn't long before I was having 1 or 2 coffees a day and about 5 or 6 cups of tea - I was wired. My anxiety levels shot through the roof and I was struggling to sleep, which was particularly bad because I was having to wake up before six most mornings. The worse my sleeping patterns got the more I leaned on caffeine as a crutch. It was majorly screwing up my digestion as well. I started getting stomach cramps and really bad bloating. Not to mention I'd gone from having water as my drink of choice and being super hydrated to being consistently dehydrated.
Freshers came around and I was hooked on caffeine. I started becoming a bit of a snob as well, which was an expensive habit. This was exacerbated by the guy I started dating who was drinking copious amounts from his cafetiere daily - it was a problem. My sleeping pattern were screwed. My energy levels were all up and down like crazy. Not to mention the mood swings when I was craving my next cup. At university caffeine consumption is encouraged. I remember my high school history teacher alluding to his undergraduate degree as being the turning point in his addiction. All my friends were regularly drinking this beverages and it was weird if you didn't.
Considering the level of spending had become unmanageable I switched to a more affordable option - energy drinks. One of my rowing pals and a housemate were gushing about how much they loved it. Also, a lot of the fitness youtubers I were into would regularly guzzle two Monsters a day. I did the maths: one energy drink was about £1 and I could get my caffeine fix. Of course it escalated and I started needing another one after lunch. I was completely hooked. You couldn't speak to me if I was coming down from my caffeine rush.
As consistent blog readers will know I have a bit of an addictive personality and so took this to an extreme, where most people don't. But, I do think that everyone should take a look at their consumption. Are you on anxiety medication or do you feel really low when you first wake up? Could your mental health be affected with your reliance on caffeine? Especially, I find it crazy how normalised sleeping pills or insomnia is these days and I can't help but wonder whether our caffeine culture is to blame.
I read that a third of Americans are addicted to caffeine, in other words over 100 million people. Where England isn't quite as bad and is more partial to tea. I truly believe that like other character traits we've adopted from our Yankee friends caffeine has become ingrained. We are nowhere near as Starbucks obsessed, one particularly ridiculous story from Canada was realising that a supermarket had a Starbucks inside and in it's car park. But, that's the direction we could be heading in.
The best way to tell if you might have a problem is try cutting it out for a day. For me personally I decided to quit for health reasons - mainly digestive problems. It takes three days to get the caffeine out of your symptoms but now I really don't need it. Normally, it's not the caffeine itself that's the problem it's the sugar and other additives that go with it. Now a days it grosses me out how much I loved those energy drinks in particular.
Here are three notable benefits I've received from cutting it out:
1) Sleeping way better and I'm much friendlier in the morning. To my friends, family and colleagues relief.
2) My anxiety levels are reduced. Are you actually anxious or just overly caffeinated? There's a thin line.
3) My skin's better. This one I think is because how dehydrating caffeine can be and because I substituted water whenever I fancied my kick.
If you're looking for advice on how to quit drop me a message. One thing that really worked for me is starting to drink lemon and honey or herbal tea whenever someone put the kettle on at work. But, if you have any tips that have worked for you drop them down below!
All my love, Sam