The glorious energy boost I’ve gotten by abstaining from coffee
Over the years, I’ve sometimes heard people rave about how they cut out caffeine (or just coffee) and have way more energy. My reaction has typically been to feel kind of dismissive / not really believe them / assume that means that they need to sleep more now, or have less flexibility in how much they sleep.
I kind of stumbled into cutting out coffee a few months ago, and it’s just given me a lot of energy for free (i.e. without having to take more time for sleep or make any other non-trivial tradeoffs).
I wrote this up to remind myself why it’s been super worth it for me, and decided to post it here as well in case it is helpful to others.
Not drinking coffee is SUPER worth it for me.
On the same amount of sleep as before, I generally:
have more energy throughout the day
avoid what was previously a terrible late afternoon crash
feel less tense / anxious
often have energy into the night
Given that energy is one of the top, if not the top, constraint in how good I feel and how much I can get done of the stuff I want to do, this feels magical. It’s well worth giving up the awesome jolt that coffee provides.
Previously I was drinking a fair amount of coffee:
1 100 mg caffeine pill + 1-2 cups of coffee/day on weekdays, never after 4pm
typically 1 100 mg caffeine pill + 0-1 cups on weekends (when I got 9h of sleep)
Drink 0-2 cups of English Breakfast tea a day (typically 1, sometimes 3)
Will drink tea after 4pm sometimes
Haven’t had a cup of caffeinated coffee in weeks or months (I think I had half a cup, a month or two ago. I also had a decaf cappuccino a couple weeks ago).
How have things changed?
(Both before and after, I got:
7-7.5h of sleep on weekdays
9h of sleep on Fri and Sat
A 30 second blast of cold shower (typically at the end of the shower) almost always
This seems much more important now than it did before in terms of waking me up
Working out in the AM probably 4-5 mornings a week
The big benefits:
The very big ones:
I used to feel pretty terrible in the mid-late afternoon / early evening—exhausted in my body, such that it felt very difficult to do anything productive for 1-2 hours during that time. I often felt the need to take a nap if I hadn’t gotten 7.5-8 hours of sleep at night. And even after the nap / break I felt very sluggish
I now still feel sleepy (and still end up taking a break for an hour much of the time, spanning meditating/napping and having a cup of tea/snack), but I can power through it if needed, and the slump feels much, much more minor.
I used to feel very sluggish and low on energy at night / after dinner.
I now often feel myself having a good amount of energy till I go to sleep (and I am still able to go to sleep pretty readily)
I feel more energetic in the morning during the workday—rarely do I feel like I’m dragging hard until coffee kicks in (which was not a rare occurrence previously)
I feel less anxious / tense in my body. Previously, feeling tense/tight in my body after a cup of coffee was not a rare occurrence; now I never have it (I still experience anxiety, but not that specific terrible flavor of anxiety, and I think I have less anxiety/stress overall)
Immediately upon waking up:
I still feel a little out of it / sometimes grumpy (esp during the workweek), but rarely feel exhausted
Though I am probably sleepier till my shower than I was before
Upon starting my workday:
I am sufficiently clear-headed and motivated to work just fine
A little harder on the weekends, because I don’t have the adrenalin/cortisol flowing. But my AM productivity on the weekends was pretty spotty even before.
I can perceive a difference in my energy levels when I drink (alcohol) lightly (1 drink), moderately (2 drinks), or heavily (3+ drinks) and if I drink shortly before bed. That motivates me to drink less, and gives me an additional lever for more energy.
How did I get here?
I don’t exactly remember, but I kind of stumbled into it—I think I had a 4 day weekend and so ended up better slept than I typically am, felt the need for less caffeine as a result, and that just kicked off a virtuous cycle.
This brings to mind the question of whether I’d get even more benefits by giving up caffeine entirely (or say, switching to green tea). I wonder if that would be the case, but currently I like having the ability to jolt myself / have energy at the times I want it even if I underslept a little, so am not planning to experiment with that any time soon.