Caffeine gives you a hyper-alert state of rushing energy, but this stimulant can be highly addictive. And if you suddenly stop caffeine intake, you will inevitably experience some unpleasant withdrawal symptoms. This post centers on quitting caffeine timeline. Here you will also learn about caffeine withdrawal symptoms and ways to deal with them.
Caffeine Withdrawal Explained
Abrupt discontinuation of caffeine intake results in caffeine withdrawal. You may want to stop caffeine consumption for a host of reasons, including lifestyle change and medical reasons.
A neurotransmitter called adenosine causes feelings of tiredness and relaxation in the brain. Caffeine blocks adenosine receptors, making you feel alert. And when you discontinue your caffeine intake, your adenosine receptors are no longer blocked, and that makes you feel tired and jittery.
If your caffeine consumption is moderate, and you stop suddenly, you may not experience unpleasant withdrawal symptoms. But if you consume more than 600 mg of caffeine per day, you are likely to experience intense and unpleasant withdrawal symptoms.
Caffeine Withdrawal Symptoms
People have varying degrees of caffeine tolerance. If a person is highly sensitive to caffeine, consuming a relatively small amount of caffeine can lead to rapid heart rate, insomnia, anxiety, and restlessness.
In the same way, caffeine withdrawal symptoms vary from person to person. While some people feel slightly unwell after quitting the drug, others become physically ill.
Below are the most common caffeine withdrawal symptoms.
Headache is the most common symptom of caffeine withdrawal. About 50% of those who stop caffeine intake experience headaches. Even if you consume a small amount of caffeine every day, sudden discontinuation will result in a headache.
Anxiety and Depression
While caffeine tolerance depends on person to person, in general a person can pretty easily become dependent on the substance. And when you become dependent on caffeine and suddenly stop consuming it, you are likely to feel anxious and depressed. People who regularly drink six or more cups of coffee are more likely to experience anxiety and depression.
Sleepiness and Fatigue
Caffeine is a highly potent stimulant, and those who suddenly wean off of it feel drowsy and tired. For some people, fatigue can be very unpleasant and can lead to relapse.
Caffeine helps release dopamine in the brain. This neurochemical is responsible for your ability to concentrate. After quitting caffeine, you may find it hard to focus on tasks.
Quitting Caffeine Timeline
The length of caffeine withdrawal symptoms depends on a host of factors such as the amount of caffeine you consume, your age, health, gender, weight, nutrition, and genetics. If you are a heavy coffee drinker, you can expect some pretty intense withdrawal symptoms.
Some people may take several months to get comfortable without caffeine. These people occasionally experience lethargy and brain fog during this time.
Below, we are going to outline a general timeline for caffeine withdrawal symptoms.
About 12 hours after your last cup of coffee, you will most likely begin to feel a headache. It will be felt on both sides of your head, and the symptom will worsen when you engage in physical activities.
Day 2 – 3
For most people, these two days is the most difficult time in the quitting caffeine timeline. Between 20-50 hours, the symptoms will peak. Caffeine stimulates digestion. So, without caffeine in your system, you may also have to deal with constipation. However, significant distress is not very common. That happens only in about 13% of cases.
Days 4 – 9
During these days you will feel a lot better. No matter how dependent on caffeine, the withdrawal symptoms will go away in 9 days. You occasionally experience headaches during these six days, but that will not hamper your day-to-day activities. Caffeine is known to suppress hunger. So, as you get off of caffeine, you will feel hungrier.
Quitting caffeine timeline, just like caffeine tolerance, varies from person to person. However, the timeline we have outlined above works for a vast majority of people who quit caffeine.
Dealing with Caffeine Withdrawal Symptoms
For most people, caffeine withdrawal symptoms are not very unpleasant. However, if you find the symptoms unpleasant, there are things you can do not ease them. Here are some tips for you:
- Taper off. Going cold turkey can result in intense withdrawal symptoms. So, try to make the quitting process slow and gradual.
- Take pain relievers. Acetaminophen and ibuprofen can alleviate muscle and headaches. If needed, try these OTC pain relievers.
- Drink water. Caffeine withdrawal symptoms such as headaches get worse when your body is dehydrated. So, make sure you drink a lot of water.
- Get rest. Plenty of sleep can dramatically lessen the fatigue associated with caffeine withdrawal. So, make sure you get rest, at least the first few days.
Rubbing peppermint oil and applying ice packs can also reduce the intensity of headaches. Above all, just remember that the symptoms are temporary. Wait for a few days and let the symptoms go away on their own.
Should You Give Up Coffee?
For many coffee drinkers who are concerned about the harmful effects of caffeine, this is the most important question. If you struggle with sleep, deal with anxiety, or have heart arrhythmia, you can consider giving up coffee. People with digestion issues also want to quit caffeine because it often disrupts the digestive system.
It is also important to remember that caffeine has some health benefits. For most people, cutting back caffeine may be a better decision than giving it up altogether. With that said, the final decision is up to you. If you think you no longer want to be dependent on a drug, why not try to live without it?
As you have seen in the quitting caffeine timeline, the withdrawals do not last for many days. And that is good news for those who are planning to quit this stimulating drug. If you think you can deal with some unpleasant physical and mental symptoms for about a week, you are ready to get decaffeinated.