For the last month I have completely given up caffeine cold turkey not one sip in any form. Before I get into all the details of why I gave up caffeine or how the month has gone for me, let’s start with my usual relationship with the wonder drug known as caffeine. I love caffeine in fact it is my drug of choice, it has some many upsides with basically no downsides or so I led myself to believe over the years as my caffeine consumption rose and rose. In high school I got my caffeine through pop(Im from the north we call it pop) there weren’t any energy drinks at the time, and I didn’t much like the taste of coffee. In College however I was introduced to RedBull the can that gives you wings, albeit I used it more for all night party sessions, rather then all night study sessions, and I found the effects were great. While I was in the Navy it was standard practice to drink at least two monsters a day, on deployment energy drinks were free and we drank them like water. Around the time I became an instructor in the Navy I also started taking a serious liking for coffee. Looking back I find it funny I guess maybe it just goes with the culture or the idea that instructors have a coffee cup in hand while yelling at students. Either way I would consume 3-4 cups every morning, and I would usually have a redbull or energy drink of sorts in the afternoon. To add to the caffeine I also was using pre-workout supplements all of which usually contained some amount of caffeine. Looking back now I wonder how I ever got to sleep in the evening.
Last year it hit me that I needed to do something about my caffeine issue so I decided that when 2017 began I would slowly bring my consumption of caffeine back. I did this by cutting out coffee and only allowing myself tea, and pre-workout, I know not the best, but remember I would easily drink an entire pot of coffee myself some mornings. I also decided that at the end of each month I would go a week without caffeine, and by week I meant work week as in 5 days allowing myself caffeine saturday. I did a good job for the first few months of the year, I would drink caffeine mainly coffee and tea for the first 3 weeks and then the last week of the month I would cut it out. I missed a few months, but overall I was successful at taking 1 work week off a month. During the week that I didn’t have any caffeine I noticed a few different things. One the first two days sometimes three were the worst. By 4pm on the first day I would have a splitting headache, it reminded me of the same headache I had when I quit smoking. Day 2 would give me cravings and a headache and usually by day 3 I was good to go. I have always been able to drop things cold turkey, so having cravings wasn’t really that big of an issue for me. The plus side of those weeks those was the sleep, usually starting on day 2 it was incredible. I would get into bed and fall asleep right away, and the best part is I would sleep straight through the night. The later being something that never happens for me as I always find myself waking up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom. I also noticed that when I woke up I felt like I had a gotten a much deeper sleep then normal. Being a nerd in the sleep department I realized that my body was producing more melatonin and therefore I was getting into a deeper sleep sooner which helped my body to restore and recover better. This really made me think that maybe caffeine isn’t exactly the wonder drug I once believed it to be. Although I was still consuming a good deal of it 3 weeks out of each month.
Disciline Equals Freedom
I also noticed that while I was doing good with not drinking any caffeine in the final week of each month, I was still consuming large quantities during the 3 weeks when I was allowing myself the joy and pleasure of the so called wonder drug. Each time I would cycle off, it would get me thinking that I needed to cut back consumption during on weeks, but life would get in the way, which is a bullshit excuse, in reality I lacked consistency and dedication to the cause. So as the end of the year approached I thought about some goals or ways I wanted to progress forward in 2018. One thing that came up again was to cut down on caffeine consumption. I hadn’t planned on going an entire month without caffeine, truth be told I had a plan to cut down on the amount of caffeine by holding myself to only two cups of coffee a day for the first month, and then only one cup a day each month after. But the universe intervened and I became sick the first week of the year, and before I realized it, I hadn’t had any coffee or caffeine for 3 days. About the same time I read a quote from a stoic philosopher Seneca saying, “ We must give up many things to which we are addicted, considering them to be good.” As I read the line and then pondered on what he was saying I decided that I would give up caffeine for the rest of the month. It wasn’t an easy road, but it has taught me that no addiction should have control over a person, everyone has the ability to break free from any addiction, they just have to be willing to dedicate themselves and as Jocko Willink says, “DISCIPLINE EQUALS FREEDOM”.
Over the course of this last month I noticed a few things that came into place when I cut the relationship with caffeine. As before with my weekly experiments my sleep was again one of the first things to be affected in a positive way. I was again able to fall asleep immediately and sleep much better through the night. The next effect which I expected, but didn’t realize how different it would feel was that my energy levels were stabilized this effect didn’t happen until well into week 2. I began to notice that I was waking up with a good level of energy and while I didn’t have the highs that I would have with caffeine, I also did not experience those lows, the ones that usually come midday which are normally followed with an espresso or monster. Instead I drink a non caffeinated tea or bone broth bow with their own health benefits. Not having a midday crash was huge for me, and has allowed me to accomplish a lot more day to day as it feels as if I have gained hours back in my day. My month without caffeine has been great, and I am happy with the results I have gained from dropping caffeine. I do plan to take caffeine again specifically in the form of drinking coffee. I plan to use it sparingly and not abuse caffeine. I think this will allow me to get 10x the results through using caffeine to increase my performance both physically and mentally. I will adhere to the mantra of Discipline Equals Freedom to guide me through!