How I (almost) quit caffeine in 1 year

January 04, 2021
3 min read

Splitting headache at 10am. Not a fine way to start the day.

For the last 10+ years, I’ve consumed 2-5 cups of coffee every day. I was hooked to coffee is an understatement. It had gotten so bad that if I didn’t get coffee by 9am, I’d get a debilitating migraine for the rest of the day. I also had restless sleep, bordering on insomnia, where I wouldn’t sleep at all for a couple nights a month.

Sleep killer, headache giver, kick in the butt

In February 2020, I got the worst flu in years (don’t think it was COVID). The first three days were extra painful with withdrawal headaches. I decided a change was in order. My last coffee was January 31st, 2020. The rest of the process was not predetermined. I tried to follow my body needs and didn’t push to quit with a definite date in mind.

After I recovered from the flu, I switched to black tea for the next several months. I felt physically sluggish and mentally slower.

Black tea was followed by green tea for about two months. My sleep dramatically improved, however still felt lethargic. After green tea, I still didn’t feel ready to stop all together.

Jasmine Pearl Tea
Savior, kinda

Enter jasmine pearl tea. It’s rolled up into a ball and each ball has 1-3 tea leaves. I started using three tea balls for my morning tea. Over the course of three months, I’m down to one tea ball every other day. It’s been a useful tool for measuring caffeine intake. Final quitting day is February 1st, 2021.

The few things I’ve learned along the way:

A. Don’t plan for every eventuality

It was tempting to outline every possible aspect of this challenge – what to drink, when to drink it, how often, when to decrease dosage, what to do in case of a backslide etc. I consciously avoided this for two reasons. One, making a full blown plan feels so satisfying that the actual challenge doesn’t feel compelling anymore, leading me to underperform or give up. And two, I might give up if I backslide so badly that my plan doesn’t account for it. That’s pretty demoralizing.

B. Celebrate positive consequences

I still have headaches if I miss my “caffeine window”. But they are far less painful and much more manageable. That’s a win! I sleep so much better now too.

C. Take your time

It took 10 years to get to this level of caffeine dependence. Spending one year to unwind this addiction is relatively fast! I felt a lot slower mentally in the first 6 months and still do as I continue to reduce my caffeine. I expect that once I no longer depend on caffeine, my body will pick up the slack.

All in all, This has been another step in discipline and a healthier me.

I'll tell you when I post stuff.

Subscribe to get my latest posts by email.