Friday, December 12th, 2008
I, like many people, crawled out of bed every morning and sleepwalked straight to the coffee maker. I would not be functional until I had my cup of coffee.
For me the addiction to caffeine started in high school. I was one of those students that took class work lightly and would waste time goofing off until the last possible minute. I would then pull all-nighters to finish homework and study for exams the night before. To help me get through my all-nighters I would boil a full pot of coffee and down cup after cup through the night and into the morning.
I found the benefits of caffeine to be short-lived. My body became dependant on caffeine. I began to need several doses a day; otherwise I would generally feel irritable and get headaches. Caffeine also disrupted my sleeping habits. I did not sleep as restfully and would wake up several times through the course of an evening. Worse still, I found was that I was beginning to get insomnia. This was something I had never experienced before. My insomnia became so bad that at times I would not be able to sleep for several nights in a row. When I did manage to get sleep I had trouble getting out of bed and felt miserable in the morning. As my body grew accustomed to caffeine, I needed steadily higher dosages to achieve the same levels of alertness and to fight off headaches. I combated all of these negative effects with yet more caffeine. I continued these habits all through college. By the end of college I was drinking six or more cups of coffee, four cups of tea and four cans of coke everyday.
When I took account of what I was doing, I realized that I had a physical and mental dependence on a drug. Any substance that could affect me like this was making me weak. I resolved to quit caffeine immediately. The next week for me was hell. I had agonizing body and headaches and was in a general bad mood. Slowly, day after day the effects lessened and after a week they disappeared.
I have not had any caffeine in nearly eight years now and I can tell you that I do not miss it at all. The benefits have been drastic and far-reaching in my life.
1. My headaches are gone.
I rarely, if ever get headaches any more. This is in contrast to when headaches used to be a nearly daily occurrence for me.
2. I sleep more soundly.
I wake up with more energy and while I still get insomnia on occasion, it occurs much less frequently, and the duration is shorter.
3. I have higher and more even energy levels.
I no longer have the caffeine driven ups and downs. Since I work in the video game industry, I am expected to work in “crunch” mode just prior to a product shipping. During crunch, developers are hard at work for 70 to 100 hours a week, six to seven days a week for periods of up to and beyond 6 months. I do not know how I could have met the challenges of intense and sustained “crunches” without the even and generally higher energy level I now enjoy.
If you have never been caffeine free, I would highly recommend that you give it a try and stick to it for at least a month and compare how you feel.
Here are some methods and tips on how you can break your own addiction to caffeine.
1. Quit cold-turkey
If you consuming large amounts of caffeine, you will get withdrawal symptoms. Block out a good week where you can have the least amount of impact on work, family or friends to deal with the effects.
The first few days are the worst. After that the withdrawal effects lessen day after day.
2. Gradually lessen your caffeine dosage
If you can’t quit immediately, try dialing back the amount of coffee you have each day. Try switching to caffeine free tea for your middle of the day beverage and slowly lower the amount of caffeine you are drinking.
3. Reward yourself
Breaking an addiction is not easy; do not forget to reward yourself when you reach a milestone. This can give you the motivation to continue.
If you are still having problems reaching the goal of breaking the caffeine addiction see my other article.
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