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This article was written on 10 Apr 2007, and is filled under Willpower.

My life without coffee – one year on

Coffee cup

It’s coming up to the 1-year anniversary of my last cup of coffee (I never planned it, so I didn’t note the date exactly), so I wanted to share some thoughts about my experience.

Let’s start with background – I’ve been drinking several cups of coffee daily since my teens. Then we got a coffee machine at work. I think 6-10 cups a day would be a reasonable estimate of my intake just over a year ago. I’d never really thought about how much I drank, though a few years ago I started switching to decaf after 6pm, so that I could get to sleep before the new day began.

Then one fateful day, the coffee machine at work ran out of milk. I thought to myself, “let’s see if I can go without coffee for a day”.

That night, around 9.30pm, I was sat in front of the computer when all of a sudden my shoulders locked up and I got a pounding headache. I switched off the PC, curled up in bed and slept like the dead.

Having such a strong reaction really shook me up, and I decided to extend the experiment and see what happened.

For the next two weeks, I was incapable of staying awake past 10pm – I literally crawled into bed and was out like a light. I didn’t feel hugely refreshed, but I was getting more sleep than I’d had in years, and I started feeling better, little by little.

Over the next couple of months, as I slowly adjusted to my new rhythms, I was able to stay up later, but also I was able to wake up earlier without feeling dog-tired.

Now, I can’t lie to you and say I have boundless energy and need to sleep for only 30 minutes a night – I like a lie-in as much as anyone – but I do feel more energetic, and I’m doing a lot more with my time nowadays. I can’t attribute it all to giving up coffee, but it was certainly the catalyst for many other lifestyle changes.

I haven’t cut out caffeine entirely – I’ve grown to really enjoy tea – but I went without any caffeine at all for a few days recently, and it had no effect at all. The addiction is gone and if I have my way it’s never coming back.

9 Comments

  1. links for 2007-04-12
    April 11, 2007

    […] Inside Strength » Blog Archive » My life without coffee – one year on For the next two weeks, I was incapable of staying awake past 10pm – I literally crawled into bed and was out like a light. (tags: interesting lifehack ideas) […]

  2. Glenn
    May 18, 2008

    I stumbled across your site via comments on Ryan Holiday’s blog.

    I too decided to try and cut coffee out of my life, and I have been amazed with the results. I was traveling abroad over spring break and decided I wasn’t even going to bother trying to mask the taste of nasty hotel coffee with THAT much sugar… and that was that. I’ve had one cup since the beginning of March (out celebrating with a friend at the completion of an exam) and I found that I really had lost my taste for the beverage.

    It’s water and smoothies for me now, and while I can’t name any one part of my life with some noticeable improvement, I simply feel better… and that is enough for me to keep such habits at bay.

    I like what you have here, I hope you’ll keep updating the site.

  3. Sandee
    July 26, 2009

    Thank you for this post. I’ve been off coffee for one week now and have really noticed a lot….one of my worries though is, “will I get my energy back”? Really I have at least as much as I had before….I think that I’ve totally exhausted my adrenal glands….and I’m drinking green tea too. What I’ve noticed is a wart on the bottom of my foot that wouldn’t go away for about a year…and it was painful….is gone. I have had more water than I can say….I must have been very dehydrated, as a result, my skin especially my lips, hands and feet have swelled in a good way and are extra soft and I’m not as emotionally reactive as I was before….a treat for my husband : ) Thanks again….I need to hear from people who went all the way through…today I needed a 2 hour nap….but I can’t be doing that all the time.

  4. Jane
    December 30, 2009

    Going off coffee was one of the best things I have ever done for myself. Physically, mentally, emotionally, my life improved after giving up the beverage. I still miss the taste at times, and the feeling after drinking it, but the benefits of not drinking it simply outweight the cravings! I also think some people can handle coffee better than others, and I am one of those who is less well-equipped. Coffee was giving me migraines, skin trouble, and longterm exhaustion. Anyone who suffers from these, take a break from coffee and see how you feel :-)

  5. Ron
    June 22, 2010

    Interesting blog and comments. I drank coffee for over 40 years. Loved it. But I developed a painful indigestion and tried all sorts of things to relive it. Even developed other issues from all the calcium I was taking in. Finally decided to try life without coffee – the indigestion stopped the first day. The only significant headaches I got were from the people who insisted I should be having headaches. I love the feeling of calm I now enjoy. Sure, I was low on energy for a while but that came back to a reasonable level. My productivity wasn’t affected at all. But I really think my mental clarity improved.

  6. mnm
    November 5, 2010

    Thanks for the great blog. It is really interesting to see our lifestyles are heavily influenced by the short-term buzz given by the beverage. I myself had given up coffee for about a week now.Indeed, on my 1st day, the withdrawal effect was quite adverse.I switched to green tea.Honestly speaking, my sleep is now better. My mental concentration improved as well as my time perception. I am worried about the long term effects of the beverage consumption on regular basis.

  7. Kenny
    January 24, 2011

    So I found this blog by using search string of “how to live without coffee.” Honestly I love coffee for its taste about as much as its purpose to aid alertness. I stopped exactly one week ago. In the morning, I was drinking two full 16 oz cups of my “motor oil” which I made in my French press, and then by the afternoon I would drink one more 16 oz and in the evening I would brew a half pot and drink 2-3 cups. After not drinking it for 2 days I developed very painful headaches and felt like a zombie…like I was sleepwalking. To replace the coffee, I am drinking lots of water instead. After 8 days, while my energy levels are poor, I am already starting to see how much coffee was having a daily impact on my health. I actually feel like I can concentrate better even though I don’t feel “all there.” I hope to not entirely eliminate it completely from my diet, but I am doing this mainly because I want to rekindle my love for coffee by appreciating a cup every once and awhile. Nothing really new here, but moderation and discipline I think is so important to human health…we are already bombarded daily with so many potential environmental influences, toxins, etc…and by monitoring our diet more carefully, this should be foremost.

  8. Ady
    May 19, 2011

    Your words have been encouraging. Today I’m on a low from being without coffee for four days now. My decision to try to be “coffee free” came after contracting the worst flue I’ve had in years. After two days of practically no food and water. The idea of that warm caffeinated beverage nauseated me. I went through a three day headache partly from withdrawal and thought I might as well see if I could keep from reintroducing coffee back into my system. I know I consumed beyond healthy amounts prior to being sick and I disliked how I was enslaved to the stuff daily (hello washroom). So hear I sit with fuzzy brain and wanting to sleep too much, but I’m going to keep on this new healthier path in hopes of reaping some of the benefits you’ve spoken of. Thanks

  9. jim
    January 8, 2012

    I had a toxic reaction to three latte in a row a few days ago.
    I have been swilling it for years. (Once when I gave it up I was waking early feeling great.) This toxic reaction left me with a sore throat, unable to swallow, blazing headache and fever. Three days later getting better but still the thought of coffee makes me sick and I think I will quit except for family dinners. I felt like the guy in ‘thank you for smoking’ who got done with the nicotine patches.

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