After 25 years of drinking coffee daily, I quit cold turkey. I have more energy now and my anxiety disappeared.

Conz Preti drinking coffee
The author drinking coffee.Courtesy of Conz Preti
  • I started drinking coffee when I was in high school to help me wake up in the morning.

  • I would drink one or two cups in the morning every day, but began feeling too jittery.

  • It's been over a month without coffee and it's been shockingly great.

I started drinking coffee when I was 15 years old and living in Brazil. My parents always drank coffee throughout the day, including espressos before bed, so when I asked for a cup of regular coffee to help me wake up and go to school, there were no questions asked.

I've had one or two cups a day ever since. Usually, I had my coffee with milk in about half-and-half portions. I learned quickly that I could not drink coffee past noon or I'd have trouble sleeping. That rule was often broken in college when I drank coffee at night to pull all-nighters while studying.

In the last year or so, I started to notice that I was more tired than usual when I woke up, making me run for my dose of caffeine. My kids were sleeping through the night, and I was going to bed early, so it didn't make sense to be so tired. A friend had given me a bigger mug for my birthday, so I was drinking double what I was used to and still not feeling alert. I also started noticing that I was getting more jittery and anxious.

My husband quit coffee when our twins were born, after reading Michael Pollan's book "Caffeine: How Caffeine Created The Modern World." He had been nudging me to kick the habit for years. I decided to give it a try as a New Year's resolution. I quit cold turkey a month ago and wish I had done it sooner.

I was worried about withdrawal

As someone who has suffered from migraines since around the same time I started drinking coffee, my biggest fear was getting headaches from lack of caffeine. I'm pretty non-functional if my head hurts and with three kids and a full time job, I just couldn't take that risk.

I decided to stop while on vacation. I figured if I did get any headaches, I could nurse them without affecting anything else in my life. To my surprise, I only had two days of mild headaches. 

I also anticipated I was going to be more tired without my morning boost, but being on vacation made it perfect timing because I was able to sneak a couple of naps the first week that I was caffeine-free. All in all, the side effects weren't as bad as I imagined them to be.

I thought that returning to my regular schedule would pose a threat to my resolution, but it's also been easier to stick to it than I thought. I bought a kettle to have hot water ready for herbal teas to keep warm in the winter and hid the coffee grinder and coffee machine in our basement. I'm keeping them in case we ever have guests who want coffee.

My mental health improved

As the weeks went by, I noticed that I was feeling better rested. I didn't hit that wall after lunch when my eyes would feel heavy and I'd become slow and sluggish. My energy levels stayed the same throughout the entire day.

Even though I never used to drink coffee past noon, I also noticed that it was easier for me to fall asleep at night. I don't usually have problems sleeping, but now when my head hits the pillow I'm out almost instantly.

What is more noticeable since stopping is that I don't feel anxious. Caffeine can trigger anxiety in people who consume too much of it. The symptoms can include restlessness, trouble sleeping, and an increased heart rate, all of which I experienced.

Since quitting, I'm no longer in that constant panic state after drinking coffee. It's by far the most noticeable positive effect.

I haven't had a late night since quitting, but I'm giving myself wiggle room if I spent a night awake with a sick kid to indulge in coffee. Other than that, I don't see myself going back to my morning coffee again.

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