Caffeine is by far our most popular drug, with millions of cups of coffee and millions of cans of energy drinks being consumed every day. It’s touted as a wonder drug that will boost our brains and bodies, making us faster, smarter, more efficient... The list goes on. As a recovering caffeine addict, I’m not sure it’s all sunshine and roses, however.
Caffeine use definitely has its advantages: it can get you through a long night working on a project, or perk you up in the mornings. It can provide power and resilience during exercise and is often a major part of pre-workout supplements... But with all that in mind, there are a number of downsides to consumption of caffeine, and the sooner you quit it, the sooner you’ll be free of them.
You wanted 5 reasons to try kicking caffeine? Well how about...
Decreased depression, irritability and anxiety
The dopamine hit associated with a caffeine high can ultimately desensitise your brain’s dopamine receptors, greatly exacerbating any pre-existing depression or depressive tendencies!
On top of that, the stress hormones released by caffeine can cause jitters, anxiety and stress. I worked at a cafe for a few years and drank absolutely outrageous amounts of espresso coffee, and one of the signs that I’d had one cup too many was a sense of absolute dread. It was the sinking feeling of having been caught red-handed, being in serious trouble, and there was no good reason for me to be feeling it... Besides the coffee. It only ever happened on days when I’d had 6 cups of coffee or more, and it was the first wake-up call to start cutting the drug out.
This is well-known. Caffeine doesn’t just cause problems getting to sleep at night, it decreases the quality of the sleep you do get! Restlessness and broken sleep can be caused by too much caffeine, and upon waking grogginess will chain you until you get more caffeine into your system. Needless to say, “well-rested” is not a feeling that will apply here.
Lower Blood Pressure
Caffeine raises your blood pressure by constricting blood vessels and increasing your heart rate – the famous pounding headache of caffeine withdrawal is a result of blood vessels expanding back to their normal size in tissues that are no longer used to it, and if that doesn’t make you think about cutting the Red Bull, I’m not sure what will.
If you’re still fighting acne like a 14-year-old, the cause may lie with caffeine – stress hormones released by caffeine consumption cause inflammation across the board, sometimes prompting acne and dandruff to break out. Try cutting it or reducing it and see if that helps.
Caffeine Will Actually Work When You Need It
When drinking several cups of coffee a day (or even overdoing the tea) our resistance to caffeine builds up until we’re just drinking it down to feel normal. In this condition, what happens to us if we need to stay up all night working? We’re screwed.
However, if we stopped overindulging with caffeine months ago, then a few cups of coffee will carry us through the project to glory. It’ll be like the first miraculous cup, the reason you started consuming caffeine regularly to begin with. Just be careful not to fall for that again.