It’s easy to get hyperbolic about your cup of coffee. We’ve all at some point said that we’ll probably “die” if we don’t get our hands around something steamy highly caffeinated in the next five minutes. We do like to be dramatic.
But, as it turns out, there actually are plenty of reasons to be worried if you aren’t within easy reach of your next coffee fix. It might sound a bit OTT, but there really are some serious side effects to watch out for should you stop drinking caffeine. Anyone looking to cut down should take note - it might not be as straightforward as you think.
As a chemical, caffeine is notable for the temporary mood-boosting effects in can produce. This is particularly true in the morning. Depriving yourself of this jolt may well mean that, for the initial period after you give up, you find yourself significantly more irritable than before. Though this will eventually pass it can make the early stages of caffeine withdrawal very tricky to manage.
Even though caffeine actually increases anxiety in the long run, stopping taking it can actually have an even worse, if short-term effect. Like any other chemical addiction, going cold turkey can have a dramatic impact upon the body, leaving anyone wanting to give up in an awkward catch-22.
Though laying off caffeine has been found to have a positive effect on feelings of anxiety, there is also evidence to show that the chemical could be an effective way to manage other aspects of mental health. Adenosine - a neurotransmitter that can cause feelings of tiredness and depression - is usually blocked by caffeine, causing you to feel awake and chipper. Depriving yourself of the chemical means that there is nothing blocking adenosine, which some believe can be bad news for anyone struggling with depression.
One of caffeine’s most famous benefits is that it can help increase people’s powers of concentration. It follows, therefore, that as soon as you stop taking it, concentration becomes that much more difficult. If you’re thinking about giving up, it might be an idea to do it when you don’t have any pressing deadlines.
There is a good reason why headaches are one of the most commonly reported symptoms of caffeine withdrawal. Over time, excessive caffeine intake causes the body’s blood vessels to narrow. Once you stop drinking it, however, the blood vessels expand again, causing more blood to flow to the brain, and an increased risk of headaches.
Clearly, if you stop drinking the thing that’s been keeping you awake, you’re going to feel a little sleepy. Though this period won’t last forever, it’s important to note that many quitting coffee drinkers report feeling exhausted for a period after they stop, making mornings extra tricky to manage.
At the end of the day, and though it might be legal, caffeine is a drug. It can therefore still produce some side effects that might seem seriously alarming to the unprepared. Some of the more extreme responses include experiencing tremors and jittery limbs, though both of these will pass in time. Till, an uncontrollable shaking hand can come as a shock.
The reactions described above might sound scary to someone considering easing up on their coffee habit. However, the reality is that the grass is greener on the other side. Once you’ve got through an early rough patch, you can expect to sleep better, feel more hydrated and ultimately be less anxious. It just might be a rocky road before you get there.