One Month Caffeine Detox: How I Did It!

This is Kelly’s experience with zero caffeine. You may remember Elisabeth’s “No Coffee November” experiment, but Kelly takes it to a new whole level ; ). Read on…

Let me preface this by saying that I. LOVE. COFFEE. ++ really any type of caffeine! I drink black coffee every morning + love an afternoon latte or tea.  I honestly can’t remember when I started, but I love the ritual of making it every morning.

Pour over coffee is my go-to because that’s what my mom made when I was growing up — super easy + low-maintenance.  My other caffeine obsession: YERBA MATE! Run don’t walk to your grocery store + try Guayaki Sparkling Gold or Enlightenmint. You will not be the same. 

My average caffeine consumption was 1-2 cups a day for most of my life.  However, the past summer I worked at a coffee shop in Chicago [read: FREE. Espresso. All. Day. Long.] I was like a kid in a candy shop.  I felt dependent on caffeine + didn’t want to do things [especially creative tasks] without it. Plus my sleep schedule was MESSED UP. I prided myself for being in bed by 10:30-11 PM most nights — pretty good for a college kid! But after waking up before 5 AM multiple days a week + then drinking espresso all day long at work this summer, my bedtime was pushed back to 12-1 AM because I was so wired + had a second rush of energy at the end of the day. Unfortunately, that sleep schedule carried over into the fall + finally this January I decided I needed to reset my caffeine tolerance + give it up for a little while. One month felt challenging but reasonable so I went for it! 

It was important that I eliminated all caffeine + not just coffee because as I mentioned — I love it all! If I had given up only coffee, I would have replaced with tons of tea + not decreased overall caffeine consumption.  I wanted to see how I would feel with absolutely no caffeine for a month, aka zero:

  • Coffee
  • Caffeinated tea
  • Kombucha

The decision to give up caffeine was somewhat spontaneous + everyone gave me the same advice, “Don’t quit cold turkey” to avoid withdrawal headaches.  I, slightly impatient, decided not to take their advice + just stop immediately. I knew this was a risk + prepared myself to go back to gradually decreasing caffeine if I had crippling headaches.  But to my + everyone else’s surprise… NO HEADACHES. Still have no reason for this as going from ~5 servings of caffeine to zero was definitely challenging but the symptoms were mainly mental fog + tiredness. I missed the clarity + energy that comes with coffee.  PRO TIP: Start on a weekend like I did so you have more time to rest + are doing more low energy activities : ) I was not experiencing what I would consider cravings for caffeine but I did have a WAY bigger sweet tooth than normal which was unexpected! I also ate more because caffeine can suppress hunger + throw off your body cues so I was more in tune with when I needed to eat. 

I heard stories of people giving up caffeine then realizing that they actually have more energy without it.  That was NOT my experience. Once withdrawal headaches were out of the way [I figured I was good after I survived the first week], I focused on my energy levels + how tired I felt throughout the day.  The first few days I let myself be super lazy + didn’t make major plans as I didn’t know how I would feel. Once I was back into my normal class + work routine I was looking for caffeine-free options to replace my morning coffee.  I like herbal tea but not so much in the mornings. I saved money from not buying any coffee or tea for a month + decided to experiment with Four Sigmatic Mushroom Hot Cacao++ really liked it!  One caveat — it is typically recommended for right before bed because it has reishi but I loved the taste + it worked well as a coffee substitute! Do what works for you!

I thought that towards the end of the month I would feel more energized + miss caffeine less. Not the case. I was used to drinking the Four Sigmatic mix instead but I still missed the benefits of caffeine + how productive I am when I drink it.  At the beginning of the month my motivation was high + I was flexible with myself when I needed rest. Typically, when I have lot to do or am hardcore procrastinating I will turn to caffeine to give me the energy to do something. This month, I practiced letting myself rest when tired instead of powering through or I just did it anyway! Because any creativity or energy that I think I get from caffeine I can have without it.  During the last week I was counting down the days until I could drink a cup of coffee, but I was also super proud of myself for getting so far!

“What are the benefits? I love coffee so much it’s gotta be a good reason.”

— Coffee is NOT bad for you! Unless it’s mostly cream + sugar ; ) There are a lot of benefits to drinking 1-2 cups of coffee a day.  However, getting too dependent on it is easy + the more you drink it the higher your tolerance is. Caffeine has a huge impact on your sleep + stays in your system for a long time so even if you fall asleep easily after drinking it you may spend less time in deep sleep + not feel fully rested. The main motivations for me were the opportunity to reset my tolerance + to experiment with how I felt without it! 

“Does coffee make you anxious? That’s why I stopped drinking it.  Switched to tea + feel better.”

— If I drink a lot…YES. I can overdo it, which is when I feel my mind is racing so it’s counterproductive because I can’t focus! 

“Did you have bad withdrawal symptoms?”

— Very mild considering the stories I heard! This goes to show that every body is different + reacts differently to changes.  Also a lesson in not letting other people’s negative experiences get in your way ; ) You never know until you try! 

“Did it impact your sleep schedule at all? [Positively or negatively]”

— Honestly, I was expecting way more of an impact!  My sleep schedule did not shift much except for a few extra naps. I didn’t go to bed much earlier than normal because I was up doing homework most nights [#TheStruggleIsReal] but since caffeine can affect how deep your sleep is, I was curious to see if I felt more rested but there was not a noticeable change! 

I believe in always challenging yourself + if you don’t believe that you can do something… do it! If you asked anyone in my life whether I could give up caffeine I guarantee the answer would be no [I didn’t even believe I could myself!] ++ that’s partly why I embarked on the challenge.  It was not a permanent choice, but rather an experiment to see how I felt living without something that had been a key part of my daily routine. When you do something every single day [like drink coffee!] it can be interesting to see how you feel without it. I also learned to not rely so much on external things to give my energy… it’s in ME!

.     .     .

Moving Forward: BACK. ON. THE. COFFEE. TRAIN.  That first sip on March 1 was HEAVENLY.  I am glad that I decided to take the month off + proud of myself for committing to it! I’m not planning to give up caffeine again any time soon but I am even more appreciative of its benefits + it’s forever my favorite morning ritual… but everything in moderation ; )

Questions? Thinking about experimenting with no coffee or caffeine? I would love to hear about it! DM me on Instagram @behernowco.


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