I recently tried to reduce the amount of coffee I’m drinking. The reason was that I felt that my sleep quality was deteriorating. And that was validated by the data from my Garmin watch. I thought that the coffee I’m drinking could be a likely culprit.

The experiment lasted for just 3 weeks and now the experiment can be considered finished. It was a pretty interesting experience that taught me more about how coffee affects my body and mind. I learned that I am very dependent on coffee but also that it is easier to tune down the dose than stopping cold turkey. This is not a very big surprise. But what is surprising is that even after decreasing the dose to only half a cup per day, it’s still very hard to quit fully.

The first two weeks I gradually reduced the amount of coffee I’m drinking, from about 4 cups per day before 3pm all the way down to half a cup per day. This did truly help with my sleep quality.

But after being down to half a cup per day, I thought it would be fun to try to take it to the next level. So after that I stopped altogether on two weekends. It was a bit scary because it was a long time ago that I stopped drinking fully. Like 10 years ago. And that time I felt like I got a fever and basically felt sick for a week.

This time was easier. The first weekend was still painful. The first afternoon I got a headache and started feeling very tired. Not tired like sleepy tired, but just mentally exhausted and like an engine that has run out of fuel. There was a lack of energy to do anything. I took afternoon naps and in general it was a very unproductive afternoon. The upside however was different. It should come as no surprise, but out of the tiredness and unproductiveness also came a sense of tranquility. I felt very calm.

The second day was worse. Everything I felt on Saturday was amplified on Sunday. Except for the sense of tranquility. That disappeared. All that was left was the sluggishness. The experience after this weekend was positive in a way because it showed me that yes, I can actually function without caffeine, although to a lesser degree. But it’s not the end of the world.

This sparked the idea in my mind that what if I only drink half a cup every weekday and then abstain on weekends. Maybe that will make it easier and easier to skip on the weekends, and it’ll give me maximum yield of the little dose of caffeine that I get on the weekdays? Well. It didn’t really work out that way.

Yes, on the weekdays I got a really good effect out of just half a cup of coffee. I felt more productive, I felt I didn’t really need more than just that half cup. And I didn’t get jittery. It felt pretty perfect. But the second weekend was a disappointment and disproved my hypothesis (at least somewhat, perhaps I need more data to be sure about this.) I was expecting the second weekend to be easier. But it was harder.

I didn’t get any of the initial sense of tranquility. And the tiredness was stronger and I started feeling slightly depressed. Not only did I not have the energy to do anything, but things that I usually enjoy doing felt pointless and boring. I stayed put and weathered through the storm of that weekend. But after that I decided to not skip the coffee every weekend.

I’m not entirely sure why this happened. Is it so that the coffee tolerance resets very quickly and this is never going to work? Or is it possible to achieve an on and off pattern of using coffee only on weekdays?

For now I’m not keen on trying it out. But I’m sure I will be at some point in the future. Currently my view is that the experiment was successful in teaching me more about how coffee affects my body and mind and finding out how to improve my sleep quality by reducing the dose. I also learned that my relationship with coffee is something I want to maintain on a daily basis. Because the upside of drinking coffee is far greater than the downside.

One response to “Coffee”

  1. […] wrote an article about my previous attempt to quit coffee here. I’ve tried it again and this time I’ve actually been able to quit all caffeine for […]

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