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.
- 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.
- I was feeling a mild feeling of constant worry. I wasn’t worried about anything specific, but it was there. A gloomy and ambiguous small flame, burning me from inside non-stop. I couldn’t put my finger on what was causing it, so it was just sitting there, eating away at me.
- I couldn’t focus or sit on my chair for more than a 10-20 minutes, I was easily distracted.
- Getting out of bed in the morning was nearly impossible. I felt like as my bed’s gravitational force was just a wee shy of a blackhole. Getting out was a daily struggle.
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 palpitations and that vague feeling of constant worry. The author said that he saw huge improvements after quitting coffee.
This caught attention 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 drinking a big cup of coffee while I 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 removing it completely wouldn’t work out for me, 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.
This also meant changing my criteria from “Zero Caffeine” to “Close to Zero Caffeine”, I did this for two reasons:
First, I thought I should be able to see some improvements if I go from 390-420 mg (roughly 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 is already a big lift, and I didn’t want to add it anymore.
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 that affected my ability to talk in English, I was struggling to find the right words.
Closer the afternoon the edges of my field of vision was a bit darker than normal.
Took 3 Advils during the day.
Felt tired and sleepy all day.
Slept during lunch break.
Thought about quitting, but decided to give it a bit more time and revisit it again tomorrow.
Headaches came back around 14:00 - took one Advil
Brain fog decreased by a lot, was not at my peak cognitive performance, but at least I could talk again.
Felt tired, sleepy all day
No more vision problems
Went pretty smoothly compared to the day before.
The improvements were staggering.
Decided not to quit.
Headaches again, this time around 17:00.
Still tired, but way less sleepy.
Smooth sail for the rest of the day
No problem. All good and green
Light headache in the morning, nothing else.
Day 6, and 7
Very light headache in the morning on 6th day.
Headache started around 13:00 on 7th day
Day 8 to 12
Smooth as silk. No problem
No more headaches, not tired, drowsy or sleepy anymore.
Slept from 18:00 to 7:00 next day!!!
My uninformed and untested theory is that I was interfering with my circadian rhythm by taking caffeine which inhibits the Adenosine receptors, and this 13 hour sleep was the like final reboot to install the new update.
Day 14 to 40
No problem at all.
I’m back to normal in both my cognitive and physical abilities.
I stopped tracking at this point
- Heart palpitations are gone
- The weird vague anxiety is gone
- I can focus like before.
- 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 do, but that nagging voice really is not there anymore.
I had one cup of regular coffee when I was on a vacation a while back, and there it was again, yelling, whispering and undermining my existence.
Thankfully it was gone in about 5-6 hours later, and needless to say I went without any coffee for the the rest of the vacation.
I’m enjoying 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.
Result : Successful
Score : 10/10
Will Keep? : Yes