I gave up caffeine. This is what happened.

You might be wondering why any sane person would choose to give up caffeine.

In my case, the answer is simple. I’ve lived with insomnia since the age of 10. It has been a part of my life for more than 20 years. During this multi-decade journey, I simply haven’t tried giving up caffeine. But, with a baby on the way and a newfound need to study in the early morning, improving my sleep hygiene is no longer an option. It’s something I have to do, and dropping caffeine seems like a good place to start.

A few things that took me by surprise after stopping.

 
Here’s where things get interesting. I assumed the caffeine withdrawal symptoms would be minor at best. I wasn’t expecting a 72 hour headache. It certainly wasn’t a migraine, but it was definitely unpleasant. It just hung around in the back of my mind, like an unwanted internal presence. Fortunately, my body adjusted relatively well after the 4th day, and I haven’t experienced it since.
Another thing which took me by surprise was just how easy it is to stop drinking caffeine. I am deeply passionate about Earl Grey tea, early morning coffee, and professionally made cappuccinos. These things literally add more joy to my life. Fortunately, there are plenty of alternative options out there, which made switching quite seamless. I was able to replace this habit with a near perfect replica, albeit with one key ingredient missing.

Did my sleeping patterns improve?

Without a doubt yes. The first day I went straight home after work and jumped directly into bed. I was literally incapable of keeping my eyes open. I only took a 15 minute kip, but I desperately needed it.
Within 3-4 days, my energy levels stabilized, and my normal routines kicked back into action. These are the 2 main improvements that I have noticed since then.
1) It now takes me less time to fall asleep
2) My body starts getting tired earlier in the evening

Bonus benefit:

My ability to recall my dreams also improved after stopping caffeine. Usually my dreams fade within about 5 minutes of waking up. The intensity of my dream recall i It’s still to early to tell if this change is permanent. It could literally be caused by getting better quality sleep.

Will I continue?

I think my days of having 3-6 caffeine filled beverages have come to an end. I say this, because for me, the benefit of improved sleep far outweighs the short term pleasure of a caffeine hit.
I’m not against using caffeine if you have no trouble sleeping.  Research has shown that there of plenty of benefits that you can look forward to if you consume a moderate amount of caffeine daily (ie less than 300mg per day).
If you have even the slightest difficulty sleeping however, this could well be the cure that you’ve been looking for.

 

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