Why did I choose to quit caffeine?

A few months ago I started noticing a few things that bothered me for a while but I kept shutting them down.

  1. I felt like my heart was missing a beat or two from time to time. It’s a very unpleasant feeling, just like when you hear a shockingly bad news. I later learned that these “missed beats” are called heart palpitation.

  2. I was constanly feeling a small, but noticable “worriness”, I wasn’t worried per se, I couldn’t say what I was feeling worried about, but it was there, this gloomy and ambigious small flame, burning me from inside non-stop. It was unnerving as I couldn’t do anything about it because I couldn’t put my finger on what was causing it, so it was just sitting there, eating away at me.

  3. I couldn’t focus or sit on my chair for more than a 10-20 minutes, I was easily distracted

  4. I had a very hard time getting out of bed in the morning, I felt like my bed’s gravitional force was just a wee shy of a blackhole. Getting out was a struggle, every single day

What happened?

I was going through some random blog posts in another feat of inability to focus (#2 above) when I saw a comment describing the same symptoms as mine, the most striking ones were the heart palpitaions and that vague feeling of cosntant worry, the author said that he saw huge improvements after quitting coffee.
This caught my eyes and I was thinking about it throughout the day, next morning after over coming that blackhole of a bed, I went on with my routine of making some coffee and having a big cup of it while I do my morning read.
Lo and behold the symptoms started showing up around 20-25 minutes after I finished my coffee.
I stopped right there, and decided to do an experiment: I was going to go zero caffeine for a month.

The Set Up

I like coffee, not for the caffeine, but for the warmth, the taste and the smell, I knew simply removing it wouldn’t work out, so I did the next logical thing and started looking for a good replacement.
After some searching for different brews (herbs, and different types of tea), I decided to go with a decaf coffee, that also meant changing my criteria from “Zero Caffeine” to “Close to Zero Caffeine”, I did this for two reasons.
First, I thought to myself I should be able to see some improvements if I go from 390-420 mg (rougly 3-4 cups per day) to 5 mg (2 cups of decaf).
Second, I wanted this experiment to be as frictionless as possible, cutting back on caffeine comes with a lot of withdrawal symptoms (will talk later about it), so I didn’t want to add more burden (like adapting to a new taste) to an already heavy lift.
I chose to go with Kicking Horse Decaf coffee beans for 3 reasons, because they use Swiss Water Process to decaffeinate the beans, they had good reviews, and I could have it delivered as soon as tomorrow.

Timeline

Day 1

Throbbing explosive headache started at 11:30.
Couldn’t focus, was feeling pressure behind my eyes and at some point I couldn’t even open my eyes completely, was a bit sensitive to light.
Cognitive performance declined so much, impacted my ability to fluently talk in English, I was struggling to find the words.
Near the afternoon the edges of my field of vision was a bit darker than normal.
Took 3 advils during the day.
Felt phsycically tired and sleep all day.
Slept during lunch.
Thought about quitting, but decided to give it a bit more time and revisit it again tomorrow

Day 2

Headaches came back around 14:00 - took one advil
Brain fog decreased by a lot, was not at my peak cognitive performace, but at least I could talk again.
Felt physically tired, drowsey and sleepy all day
No more vision problems
Went pretty smoothly compared to the day before.
The improvements were stagerring. Decided not to quit.

Day 3

Headaches again, this time around 17:00.
Still phsyically tired, but way less sleepy.
Smooth sail for the rest of the day

Day 4

No problem. All good and green

Day 5

Light headache in the morning, nothing else.

Day 6, and 7

Very light headache in the morning on 6th and around 13:00 on 7th day

Day 8 to 12

Smooth as silk. No problem

Day 13

No more headaches, not tired, drowsey or sleepy anymore.
Slept from 18:00 to 7:00 next day!!!
My uninformed and untested theory (forgive me if it’s as wrong as a flat earth theory!) is that I was probably interferring with my circadian rhythm by introducing caffeine which inhibts the adenosine receptors, and this 13 hour sleep was the final reboot to install the new update.

Day 14 to 40

No problem at all.
I’m back to normal in both my coginitive and phsyical abilities.
I stopped tracking at this point

Results

  1. Heart palpitations are gone
  2. The weird vague anxiety is gone
  3. I can focus like I could before I started drinking coffee (about 4 years ago), for example this very blog post is written in one go.
  4. I’m getting out of the bed like a feather, no more struggling, it’s quick and painless now.

The BIG Surprising Outcome

The biggest weirdest most important, most unexpected and by far the most desirable outcome is this:
The negative voice in my head is gone!
The negative self talk is gone, the voice that used to nag in the back of my head “You are not good enough” is completely gone!
I know this sounds weird, believe me, I am still on the same boat, but that nagging voice really is not there anymore.
I had one cup of coffee when I was on a vacation a while back, and there it was again, talking, yelling, whispering and undermining my existence. Thankfully it was gone in about 5-6 hours laters, and needless to say I went without any coffee, decaf or otherwise, for the the rest of the vacation.
My current theory is that this tightly coupled with that vague feeling of worry - I think this might be the “anxiety” everyone talks about.
I’m enojying my newly found freedom so much that I have no intention of understanding the nature of that voice anytime soon.
I might do some experimentation with it later, but it will be only after my current peace of mind becomes my new normal, so I instanly know that any deviation from it is not normal.

Verdict

Result : Successful
Score : 10/10
Will Keep? : Yes