Breaking the Caffeine Cycle
If you’re a morning coffee drinker, you know all about the vicious caffeine cycle. You wake up feeling crummy. Your head is in a fog and you can’t think straight. You have your first cup of coffee, and magically, the fog is lifted. You feel like yourself again. After lunch you feel sleepy and turn again to the coffee for a pick-me-up. The rush wears off and you need more. Then you struggle to fall asleep at night, thanks to the coffee. You wake up feeling crummy, and start the process all over again. If you are caught in this cycle, here’s how to break caffeine addiction
Caffeine is a Drug
It may seem surprising, but caffeine is actually a mind-altering substance and a drug. It is possible to be addicted to it, and in fact, millions of people are addicted to this legal and perfectly acceptable drug. Caffeine is a natural drug. It’s found in the coffee bean, the cacao bean and the kola nut. It is a stimulant and helps you stay awake and alert. As such, it can also get you hooked. For the most part, coffee and caffeine are not bad for your health. In moderate amounts they are even good for you. If you find yourself trapped in the cycle, though, and handcuffed to your coffee cup, you may have an unhealthy addiction.
Symptoms of Caffeine Addiction
The symptoms of being a caffeine addict mirror those of harder drugs, although they are less serious. If you’re addicted to caffeine, you experience withdrawal symptoms. These are the bad feelings you have in the morning before your first cup of coffee. You feel groggy, irritable and foggy. You might even have a headache. Caffeine addiction is also characterized by tolerance. You need more and more coffee to perk up. You probably also crave your caffeine, not just first thing in the morning, but throughout the day.
There isn’t really a caffeine rehab, like there is for other drugs, but you can put yourself through your own version of rehab. Being aware of the problem is the first step. Next you need to decide if you will quit cold turkey or taper off caffeine slowly. The latter is usually easier. Slowly cut back by taking out a half a cup a day. Then replace each cup with something that is lower in caffeine, like tea.
Essential to successful rehab of any type is support. Tell your family, friends, coworkers and others that you are trying to get clean. Ask for support and accountability. As you go through the process of giving up caffeine or drastically cutting back, make sure you make other positive, healthy choices so that you will feel better overall. Eat well, drink plenty of water, get exercise regularly and get a solid night’s sleep.
Breaking caffeine addiction isn’t easy, but you can do it with replacement drinks, support from friends and family, healthy lifestyle choices and solid willpower. You might feel bad at first, but you won’t regret losing your daily dependence on caffeine.