Today I have gone without coffee for 30 days.
It's been an interesting experiment.
I started drinking coffee at a pretty late age, probably around 22 or 23.
Since then I've consumed three cups or more every day.
Lately I've become more interested in my own personal energy. And being hooked on coffee is a bit like the curve above. :)
So I wanted to see how getting rid of the coffee would affect my energy, mood and effectiveness.
I know that some get off coffee by slowly decreasing the amount of coffee they consume each week and perhaps by replacing it with tea or non-caffeinated alternatives.
I took another approach.
30 days ago I came down with a bad cold and pretty much knew that I would spend a few days in bed doing nothing more than reading and watching some TV.
I also knew that going without coffee would make me very sleepy.
So I combined the two things. I stopped drinking coffee and then I was sleeping a lot the next few days.
This made it easier to get through the most unpleasant days of sneezing and having a fever. And since I wasn't doing anything special anyway it was OK to feel drowsy and sleep a lot.
Towards the end of that week my cold had decreased in power and so had my sleepiness.
Since then it's been no problem to not drink coffee and I have experienced some positive benefits.
The big one is that my ability to focus has improved. That has affected my life in a few ways:
- It has become easier to focus just on the task in front of me and shut out the rest of the distractions.
- I'm less prone to procrastination. I didn't really notice it while I was drinking coffee but my mind seemed to wander off in all kinds of ways a lot of the time. Now it's easier to single-task and focus on one thing and I don't feel the same need to check email or other distracting stuff.
- I'm calmer. I'm a calm person to begin with but getting off coffee calmed and slowed my brain down. So I feel more relaxed more of the time. And it's easier to think with clarity.
Getting of coffee has been a positive experience for me. It's actually had more of a positive effect than I would have expected. I thought I would feel a little less stressed overall but it has made a significant dent in my ability to focus and concentrate. I also used to feel tired after a meal and used coffee immediately after the meal to boost my energy levels. Now I have a much more even energy-curve throughout the day.
So I'll continue to stay coffee free and perhaps sprinkle in a cup of green tea or two once in while. I would recommend trying to go coffee free for 30 days and see how it affects your mind, body and life.
One way is do it like I did and go cold-turkey (perhaps the next time you're ill or during some vacation days over the holidays). Another way is the one where you slowly decrease the amount of coffee you consume each week. And perhaps replace some of the coffee with less caffeinated teas or a couple of cups of decaf. If you get bad withdrawal symptoms then the second method may be the most useful one.