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How to Quit Caffeine

Four Parts:Preparing to StopQuitting SlowlyRecovering from Caffeine CravingsIncreasing Your Energy Without Caffeine

Caffeine can help us feel more awake and alert, but too much for too long can be bad for your health. Quitting caffeine to reset your body and move away from the highs and lows of caffeine can be difficult, but most people feel the benefits of a caffeine-free life fairly quickly. Caffeine is a drug, and like any drug, in order to free yourself from addiction, you have to be committed to your plan of action, and be ready for the withdrawal symptoms and a serious dip in your energy levels.

Part 1
Preparing to Stop

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    Get mentally ready. Do you love the taste of your caffeinated drink and the jolt of energy it can give you? Most people drink caffeine for one or both of those reasons, but too much caffeine can do serious damage to your system. If you’re constantly sipping on your caffeinated drink of choice, it’s probably time to slow down and help your body return to a more normal state. Up to 400 mg a day is ok, but any more is too much. The most you can safely drink (but probably shouldn’t) is about equal to 4 cups of coffee, or 10 cans of soda.[1]
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    Think of the benefits. If you are drinking more than 3 caffeinated drinks per day, your health might be affected. In moderate doses caffeine is healthy, but larger amounts can cause serious problems. Some of the reasons to quit caffeine are:[2]
    • Increasing hypertension risks
    • keeps the liver busy from filtering other toxins
    • tooth decay
    • weakened bones
    • addiction/dependence
    • causes anxiety
    • a cycle of hyperactivity and/or inability to focus, followed by a subsequent "crash"
    • disrupted sleep habits
    • may interfere with weight loss and has been linked to hypoglycemia
    • financial costs to support caffeine purchases
    • caffeine dehydrates your body and can make you gain weight
    • a desire for a healthier pregnancy
    • decreased libido or sexual performance
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    Choose a replacement beverage. If caffeinated drinks are an essential part of your day, you might need a replacement. Drink more water -- it is the healthiest and best choice. Switch things up with green tea or sparkling water, but steer clear of sodas, many of which are caffeinated.[3]

Part 2
Quitting Slowly

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    Start phasing out caffeine. It’s best to start small when quitting caffeine. Begin by cutting out one caffeinated drink per day. Do this for a week. If you’re missing the ritual of a morning coffee or soda, think about replacing your caffeinated beverage with its decaffeinated counterpart. Then cut out a second caffeinated beverage per day and do it for a week. Continue this pattern until you have stopped drinking all caffeine.[4]
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    Make it hard to drink caffeine. Allocate your caffeine money in the beginning of the week, so that if you over-consume it in the beginning of the week, you will have nothing to fall back onto in the end of the week. If you allocate less and less caffeine money as you go on, you will gradually reduce your intake.
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    Allow lots of time for rest and recuperation. Set aside one day - possibly a Sunday - when you are not on the go for a detox day. Make sure on the day you have chosen to detox you have no pressing commitments or tasks. Keep your calendar empty for at least the first three weeks after giving up caffeine. Give your body plenty of rest, and include a healthy intake of fresh fruits, vegetables, and multi-vitamins to include energy B-Vitamins which produce a similar effect of focus you would otherwise gain from caffeinated products.[5]
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    Drink water. Regular intake of water will help your internal organs to detox and will keep your body steadily hydrated. Caffeine is a diuretic which can cause people to lose fluid. The effects are mild for people who consume caffeine in moderation but for those that are addicted or for those that drink mostly energy drinks, the effects can be much worse. Too much caffeine along with not enough water intake can easily lead to dehydration which causes numerous health issues. Try for eight 8 oz glasses of water per day.[6]
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    Don't go at it alone. Find someone to quit with you. If you can't find that kind of support, promise to someone whom you love and respect that you will quit caffeine. Thus, consuming caffeine in any form will make you break your promise, and this will provide you with another incentive to stay on the wagon.

Part 3
Recovering from Caffeine Cravings

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    Get plenty of rest. For many of us, caffeine is a way to combat too little sleep and a lack of energy during the day. Make sure as you are quitting caffeine that you have made it possible to sleep as much as you need each night -- this will help your body reset and get used to your new caffeine-free system.[7]
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    Limit your alcohol consumption. This, along with maintaining your water routine, is especially important during the first few days as your body is adjusting. Alcohol will dehydrate you and since it's also a depressant, it will increase your cravings for the upside in caffeine the next day.[8]
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    Be ready for withdrawal symptoms. Depending on how much caffeine you drank, your body might be at risk of getting a shock with the change from daily caffeine to no caffeine. The following caffeine withdrawal symptoms are possible and can last for a few days after you have stopped caffeine:[9]
    • Fatigue and Sleepiness
    • Depression
    • Headaches
    • Irritability
    • Work Difficulty And Impairment
    • Muscle Pain/Stiffness
    • Flu-Like Symptoms
    • Insomnia
    • Constipation
    • Anxiety and Nervousness
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    Find positive distractions. As your body is withdrawing from caffeine, come up with ways to keep your mind off it. Think in advance when your weakest moments are likely to be (i.e. in the morning, when you're driving by your favorite cafe, etc.) and turn to your "security blanket" to get you through these times. A security blanket is anything that comforts you and helps you take your mind off of caffeine. It could be a stuffed toy, a pocket video game, calling your best friend, doing a crossword puzzle. You can have as many security blankets as you need, just make sure you always have one close at hand.

Part 4
Increasing Your Energy Without Caffeine

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    Listen to your favorite up-tempo songs. If you can listen to music at work, why not put on some tunes that will get your heart pumping and make you want to dance? It's a surefire way to beat the mid-afternoon slump.
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    Turn on or off the lights. Your body responds naturally to changes in light, so if it's unnaturally dark where you're working or sleeping it may make staying alert a lot harder. Conversely, if you keep on too many lights, your body won’t be able to tell when it’s truly tired -- and it will need more rest as you’re quitting caffeine. Try keeping your blinds open a bit so you'll wake up naturally in the morning or adding a few extra low lights to your workspace to keep you from feeling sleepy throughout the day.[10]
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    Stop slouching. Slumping down at your desk isn't doing you any favors in the alertness category. Sitting up, in an ergonomically friendly way, can make you feel more alert and ready to work. Consider standing up while you work or bring a yoga ball to the office to sit on. Why not include a sit-in workout to increase your energy level? [11]


  • Kicking the habit all at once may work well for some, even with the symptoms. Feeling the headache and fatigue can actually demonstrate just what the caffeine is doing to your system. It does also give some an important sense of accomplishment - since some people may not notice the difference when giving it up gradually.
  • If you give in, don't give up! Step down one rung on the ladder rather than just jump off. Maybe that's all you needed - you were pushing yourself too hard.
  • If you wish to reintroduce caffeine into your diet on a non-addicted basis limit yourself to one cup of tea or coffee every other day, preferably in the morning and no later than early afternoon. Caffeine addiction is often born out of habit, so therefore don't slip back into the habit of reaching for a tea, coffee or Diet Coke whenever you feel like it.

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