Any tips on kicking caffeine?
January 21, 2004 12:53 PM   Subscribe

Any tips on kicking caffeine? I've tried repeatedly to wean myself off of it, either failing miserably or succeeding, but finding myself getting back to it eventually. My consumption isn't even that much -- one cup of coffee each morning and maybe 3 sodas a week, but the difference is *very* noticeable. Short of midday naps, which my office tends to frown upon, how can I shake the fatigue?
posted by boomchicka to Health & Fitness (23 answers total)
I stopped caffine cold turkey last new years and after a couple weeks, I found the increased sleep I got each night made up for midday fatigue. Last spring I was getting tired after 10pm and just dropping to sleep for 9 hours or more. Eventually I settled into a more regular pattern of going to bed around midnight and waking around 8.

I only have a coke once in a blue moon now and I'm pretty sensitive to caffine these days. If I have just one coke or tea in the afternoon, I'll be up until 2 in the morning trying to sleep.
posted by mathowie at 1:10 PM on January 21, 2004

Start moderating your caffene intake with water - it will clear you out and give you something to drink. Everytime I try to shake pop addiction I end up drinking litres of water. While you end up going to the bathroom many more times than you thought was possible, it actually breaks up the work day pretty well. After a week or so, switch to water and your juice of choice. This works for me - until I have to stay up late because of a deadline.
posted by plemeljr at 1:26 PM on January 21, 2004

Is it unusual to be unstimulated by caffeine? I've never been a coffee drinker, but I never noticed a "boost" from all the Coke I used to drink, apart from what I recognized as a blood sugar infusion. Having a Coke and going to bed 30 minutes later was never a problem. Ditto tea. Did I just abuse it so much as a teenager that, like harder drugs, I was no longer affected by comparatively small doses? I rarely hear of drugs not "taking" -- i.e. producing their expected pharmacological effect -- and have always wondered.
posted by blueshammer at 1:28 PM on January 21, 2004

My caffeine free trick: SPORTea. (Horrible website. Fabulous product.) It gives you a little kick, but without the caffeine. (Ok, so it has a tiny, tiny bit. 2%. Less than decaf coffee.) And it's very, very tasty.

Around here, I find it at local coffee houses and at our local healthfood/organic grocers.

Good luck with kicking the caffeine. It's tough.
posted by aine42 at 1:29 PM on January 21, 2004

I had a friend that used to drink extra large coffees before nodding off into a deep sleep. Never could figure out how he did it.

Then again, he was the only person I knew that regularly drank quarts of hard liqour in high school. Never got sick either.
posted by will at 1:31 PM on January 21, 2004

I would suggest that the afternoon blah aka food coma, is more due to you lunch meal than lack of caffiene.

If you eat a lunch with high carb or something that raises your blood sugar, insulin floods into the blood and converts it all, leaving you low on energy as the insulin does it's job.

So try eating a light lunch or a low carbohydrate lunch and see what you find.
posted by Argyle at 1:35 PM on January 21, 2004

If you need something to pick you up in the mornings, you could switch to tea to ease the transition to a caffeine free state. I don't mean tea made the Brit way, but chai actually. That should definitely help wake you up in the mornings, and reduce the dependency on coffee.

When you are sleepy mid-day, rather than having a Coke, try drinking a fizzy lemon or orange soda. The fizz should be enough to wake you up, while taking care of the caffeine.

Having breakfast before leaving home is the best way to go. Don't wait to have it until after you've reached work. I don't know why but it helps me wake up more. Maybe it's because by the time you get to work, the energy from the food is just starting to get into your system.
posted by riffola at 1:39 PM on January 21, 2004

Slashdot at +5 level can be useful sometimes. Plus I think that site probably has the highest concentration of caffeine addicts in the world. I'd say exercise combined with copious amounts of water.
posted by Mossy at 1:39 PM on January 21, 2004

blueshammer: i don't know if it's unusual to be unstimulated by caffeine, but i'm in the "have a cup of coffee late at night, drop off to sleep soon after" camp. i used to drink several pots of coffee a day (in college), but i'm down to around 3-4 cups a day now. (no soda for me though, ever, really) if i skip the coffee in a day, i'm not tired so much as prone to dropping things.

boomchicka: i second argyle on the food thing, if your problem is a midday sleepy. if your problem is being unable to wake up in the morning, i suggest walking to work, instead of driving or riding the bus/train, or some other light aerobic exercise in the morning. i've never tried to rid myself of the coffee habit, but i find myself generally more alert on days when i skip the train and just walk to work.

i'd also recommend a substitute ritual: such as a nicely brewed, well roasted decaf.
posted by crush-onastick at 1:46 PM on January 21, 2004

I'd second the substitute ritual suggestion. I found that the hardest part of giving up coffee was finding some other way to give myself a stretch and a break.

Once I started taking little walks around the block instead of getting a cup of coffee, I found it easy to lose my desire for coffee. Now I don't even like the smell of the stuff, and I'm obnoxiously superior to my wife who is still addicted!
posted by jasper411 at 2:08 PM on January 21, 2004

Geez, people, the ritual is the addiction.

Here's my solution to caffeine addiction: purchase a pump-driven espresso maker and a burr grinder and really good beans. Make your one cup of coffee every day the best damn cup of coffee that's humanly possible.

By the time you finish grinding the beans, heating up the boiler, foaming your milk, pulling a shot, and then cleaning up the g.d. mess, you'll be fixed. You won't want to go through all that hassle for another cuppa, and the cuppa you have had will have put you in seventh heaven.

Works for me, anyway! :-)
posted by five fresh fish at 3:13 PM on January 21, 2004

I know this is going to sound bonkers, but I have heard that eating an apple in the morning, or when you have the afternoon dragass after lunch, can really help wake you up. I bring one to work [no coffee machine at the library, 20 degree below weather makes going out for coffee something even I'm not crazy enough to do] and munch on it a few hours past lunch. Carrots work too, I'm sure it's a small blood sugar kick, and fiber never hurts. There are also hippie tonics you can make that help deal with alleged mineral depletion caused by caffeine overuse but I haven't tried them. When I do a caffeine clean-out, I also usually wind down and switch to black tea in the morning, then wind down to green tea once I'm not getting the agonizing headaches anymore. I'd also just add more and more milk to less and less coffee over a few days so that I could get some coffee, the same amount of liquid in the morning, but less caffeine.
posted by jessamyn at 5:14 PM on January 21, 2004

i suggest sugar (a handful or 2 of m&ms push me thru that 3-4pm slump) : > (or fruit, maybe, i guess, to be healthier)
posted by amberglow at 6:21 PM on January 21, 2004

blueshammer: supposedly 10% of people aren't affected by caffeine in the normal way. Can't find the source for that at the moment, though. I read it in an article a few years back.

I'm one of those and so I don't drink coffee very often. If it actually helped wake me up I would drink it all day every day. :) On the occasions I do drink it, I can drink it right before going to sleep and then sleep like a baby.

The insensitivity to caffeine runs in my family. My mom doesn't react to it either. But I do remember her parents drinking coffee all the time.
posted by litlnemo at 6:29 PM on January 21, 2004

Change your sleep pattern at the same time that you try to ditch caffeine. At the same time I ditched caffeine, I set my alarm back from 8:00 AM to 5:00 AM. Crazy, I know, but now a cup of decaf coffee and a couple of carbonated waters gets me through the day, caffeine free.

Word to the wise: never ditch chocolate or tea. Sure, they contain caffeine, but the benefits of these nice treats must outweigh the costs.
posted by tomharpel at 7:00 PM on January 21, 2004

Yerba Mate
posted by chaz at 9:36 PM on January 21, 2004

I quit caffeine over a 12-month period two years ago to great success. I now drink the occasional decaf coffee or caffeinated tea; I used to drink about two-three cups o' joe a day, down from an IV drip during college.

The first three months, you'd have had no idea I was quitting -- normal coffee consumption, but with the mental knowledge that I would soon be switching to decaf. It's important to psych yourself up for this, to mentally switch away from the addiction in preparation for the physical change; after all, much of addiction is psychological. Beginning in month four, I switched to decaf coffee -- in my case Café du Monde decaf (I wasn't about to sacrifice flavor). After three months of unleaded, I reduced my consumption to one cup a day. Then I experimented with not drinking any at all, then only with weekend brunch. Eventually I was able to pack away my coffee maker and free up some extra counter space.

Now is a good time to try it -- make it a goal to quit by Christmas (or whatever your winter holiday of choice is).
posted by me3dia at 10:29 PM on January 21, 2004

Response by poster: Great suggestions, everyone. I'll definitely be trying lots of the ideas listed here. Thanks!
posted by boomchicka at 4:23 AM on January 22, 2004

If you literally need coffee to function in the morning, something's probably wrong. Sluggishness is often a result of poor eating habits. Addressing it with a stimulant just compounds the problem. Try taking some vitamins at bedtime. I often do this when I know I won't be getting a full night's sleep for some reason. (Actually, it's a good way to add an hour or two to your day on purpose. I try to take a multivitamin, some essential oils, and a couple other things every night.) Not eating anything after, say, 8 PM, assuming you go to bed around midnight, can also help. As others have pointed out, cut down on the carbs, especially starches and sugars.

A friend of mine has slightly low blood pressure and drinks more coffee than anyone else I know. The two facts are not unrelated. So if you have fatigue even after improving your nutrition, you might see a doctor about it.

(And it shouldn't take a whole year to quit. Caffeine is not heroin. A week, tops.)

One advantage of not habitually drinking caffeine is that when you really need it to work, it will. Boy will it.
posted by kindall at 9:19 AM on January 22, 2004 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Oh I don't *need* it by any means. The nutrition advice is wonderful, but that's not my problem -- I actually eat pretty well, take vitamins, get enough sleep, all of it. I'm simply trying to get through the temporary adjustment period of giving up coffee. The people here who have done it know what I mean.

Loving the suggestions, though; I'll check back in and let you know what ends up working for me. Thanks again, everyone!
posted by boomchicka at 10:10 AM on January 22, 2004

Yeah, I didn't mean you specifically, boomchicka, that was more general advice.
posted by kindall at 10:47 AM on January 22, 2004

eating an apple in the morning, or when you have the afternoon dragass after lunch, can really help wake you up. I bring one to work [no coffee machine at the library, 20 degree below weather makes going out for coffee something even I'm not crazy enough to do] and munch on it a few hours past lunch. Carrots work too, I'm sure it's a small blood sugar kick, and fiber never hurts. -jessamyn

Jess, this is a very bad idea for those who work within earshot of others. Please, folks, step to lounge or cafeteria before you begin crunching, munching... smacking... slorping... er, sorry, guess I'm projecting a bit.
posted by Tubes at 2:07 PM on January 22, 2004

If you're going to eat carrots, eat BunnyLuv carrots. They are, simply put, the best damn carrot on the market.
posted by five fresh fish at 2:26 PM on January 22, 2004

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