Cutting Out Caffeine

By Amy Brightman, LCSW

There is nothing like the smell of fresh brewed coffee and that first sip in the morning. When it comes to coffee, I love the dark, rich roasts, no milk, no sugar—just straight up. All I need is 1-2 cups in the morning, but boy do I love the ritual of it. So, when my acupuncturist suggested cutting out caffeine for general wellness and balance, I thought “yeah, right!” But, fine, challenge accepted. Here is what I’ve learned by quitting caffeine:

Better Sleep
I’ve always considered myself a good sleeper. My head hits the pillow, and I’m out. Maybe I toss and turn a bit throughout the night, but then I wake up when my alarm goes off. But, woah! With no caffeine in my system, sleep is heavenly! I thought I knew what “lights out” felt like until now. My sleep is deeper, I don’t wake up at all throughout the night, and I wake up BEFORE — yes, before — my alarm goes off. The best benefit of all is that I have never been a morning person...until now. Getting out of bed would feel like the most effort I had to use all day. My grogginess was so unpleasant and it would take me a while (and a cup of coffee later) to feel like I could function. Now, I pop out of bed (again, before my alarm goes off) and I feel awake, well rested, and actually in a good mood.

Less Anxiety
Sometimes after two cups of coffee, I would feel jittery and have heart palpitations. I figured I had too much coffee for me and would remind myself that I need to stick to one cup only. But now with no caffeine, I’ve realized how jittery or charged I felt throughout the day even with just one cup. I also would eventually feel a crash in the afternoon. I realized my body really isn’t meant to run on caffeine, it can run naturally and, in a city that is already so energized, there’s no point to increase that for myself.

Pleasant Mood
I feel more even with my moods. I think a big part of it is starting the day off right and not crashing in the afternoon. I’ve noticed less irritability for myself and a sense of calmness. And by focusing my energy on getting more energy naturally through exercise and diet, I find myself a bit more alert, and less foggy, than usual.

Now, don’t get me wrong, cutting out caffeine was not fun. Even though I only used to drink a maximum of two cups a day, I still had some withdrawal symptoms. I thought about just having a cup and forgetting this challenge, but it was worth sticking it out. I really have found that cutting caffeine has been very beneficial for me. It’s something to consider or even maybe just working toward moderation. But, for me — how do I like my coffee? No milk, no sugar, and hold the caffeine, please.

Amy Brightman is a therapist at Cobb Psychotherapy. If you are looking for support in finding solutions to enhance your overall wellness, contact Cobb Psychotherapy by calling 718-260-6042 or emailing reception@cobbpsychotherapy.com, and see how therapy can help.

Elizabeth Cobb