25 votes

The invisible addiction: Caffeine makes us more energetic, efficient and faster. But we have become so dependent that we need it just to get to our baseline.

18 comments

  1. [3]
    bilbodwyer
    Link
    I mostly gave up caffeine years ago, though I do have the occasional coffee nowadays. The author's description of the effects of their first coffee back after a break is dead on: colours seem...

    I mostly gave up caffeine years ago, though I do have the occasional coffee nowadays. The author's description of the effects of their first coffee back after a break is dead on: colours seem brighter, sounds crisper, ideas sharper. It's a true stimulant, and I've been able to train myself to use it as such. Instead of dosing daily to feel functional, I dose monthly (if that) to get a boost to my activity, be that working out, writing music, or studying. I feel much better for it, as a general rule, and the sense of deliberacy I feel from allowing myself a caffeinated coffee is quite gratifying as well.
    If you're a heavy (or even moderate to light) user, I would highly recommend trying a few weeks without caffeine to see how you go. It makes a remarkable difference.

    10 votes
    1. [3]
      Comment deleted by author
      Link Parent
      1. JakeTheDog
        Link Parent
        Why not do 2-3 days on/off? I rarely drink coffee but if and when I need it, as a rule I don't drink it more than 3 days in a row with at least 3 days break after that. It prevents me from...

        Why not do 2-3 days on/off? I rarely drink coffee but if and when I need it, as a rule I don't drink it more than 3 days in a row with at least 3 days break after that. It prevents me from building up a substantial tolerance.

        5 votes
      2. post_below
        Link Parent
        I drink coffee rarely (and yeah it's a crazy powerful stimulant that way) and I usually get pretty bad withdrawal headaches. The trick is to take painkillers before the headache sets in (which for...

        I drink coffee rarely (and yeah it's a crazy powerful stimulant that way) and I usually get pretty bad withdrawal headaches. The trick is to take painkillers before the headache sets in (which for me is a little while after whatever time I had caffeine the previous day). Nearly every time I remember to do it, little to no headache. If I forget until after the headache sets in, though, nothing will stop it.

        2 votes
  2. spit-evil-olive-tips
    Link
    Excerpt of a new book from Michael Pollan, This is Your Mind on Plants which looks really good. I previously listened to the caffeine parts of this in an Audible-only audiobook that was released...

    Excerpt of a new book from Michael Pollan, This is Your Mind on Plants which looks really good.

    I previously listened to the caffeine parts of this in an Audible-only audiobook that was released last year. Glad to see it getting actually published for wider distribution.

    5 votes
  3. Staross
    Link
    Not so invisible for me, I get pretty strong caffeine withdrawal symptoms when I stop.

    Not so invisible for me, I get pretty strong caffeine withdrawal symptoms when I stop.

    5 votes
  4. [2]
    stu2b50
    Link
    I have a weird relationship with coffee. I don't really get withdrawal or anything, but I also don't really get the stimulant effect either (very annoying when I do need to stay up!). I can drink...

    I have a weird relationship with coffee. I don't really get withdrawal or anything, but I also don't really get the stimulant effect either (very annoying when I do need to stay up!). I can drink a cup of coffee and go to sleep without much trouble. If I start downing espresso shots or something I will get a headache, so it's not like it doesn't have any effect.

    Over the pandemic I've gotten more into coffee, but it's mostly been for taste.

    5 votes
    1. Apos
      Link Parent
      It's the same for me. I'll sometimes be drinking a lot of coffee for many weeks, then I'll get bored of it for many months. One thing I notice is that it gives me a sort of starving feeling....

      It's the same for me. I'll sometimes be drinking a lot of coffee for many weeks, then I'll get bored of it for many months. One thing I notice is that it gives me a sort of starving feeling. Reading online, it seems like that's the opposite of what should happen. Sometimes it will also make me a bit sleepy depending at what time I drink it.

      Never got coffee headaches though afaik.

      3 votes
  5. feigneddork
    Link
    I honestly never heard of "caffeine withdrawal" but looking at the symptoms, it sounds like what I usually get on the weekends when I don't drink coffee... ... Whoops! Thanks for posting this, OP....

    I honestly never heard of "caffeine withdrawal" but looking at the symptoms, it sounds like what I usually get on the weekends when I don't drink coffee...

    ... Whoops! Thanks for posting this, OP. I'm going to start cutting down on the coffee, starting with this cup I have next to me!

    4 votes
  6. autumn
    Link
    I drink decaf 90% of the time. I have half a cup of caffeinated coffee maybe once during the week and a full cup maybe once on the weekend (usually because I’m making French press for my partner...

    I drink decaf 90% of the time. I have half a cup of caffeinated coffee maybe once during the week and a full cup maybe once on the weekend (usually because I’m making French press for my partner and myself). I was getting high heart rate notifications on my Apple Watch when I was drinking just a cup a day, so I decided to cut back.

    3 votes
  7. [8]
    vegai
    (edited )
    Link
    My personal feeling is that coffee has something more than just caffeine affecting at least me. I drink 2-5 cups (standard) per day normally. Sometimes I try to give it up, and I have gotten as...

    My personal feeling is that coffee has something more than just caffeine affecting at least me.

    I drink 2-5 cups (standard) per day normally. Sometimes I try to give it up, and I have gotten as far as 80 days before relapsing. The fascinating thing is that I replace coffee with tea, and there is no amount of tea (and other sources of caffeine like fizzy drinks) I can drink that will make the withdrawal symptoms go away. So I figure either my addiction is psychological or there's something besides caffeine in coffee that's causing all that.

    Even with all that tea, after a break I get all the buzz of coffee on my first cup.

    3 votes
    1. [7]
      Thra11
      Link Parent
      According to a quick internet search, a cup of black tea has around half the caffeine content of a cup of coffee (~45mg in the tea, vs. ~95mg in the coffee. Lots of variation depending on the leaf...

      According to a quick internet search, a cup of black tea has around half the caffeine content of a cup of coffee (~45mg in the tea, vs. ~95mg in the coffee. Lots of variation depending on the leaf / bean and preparation method). So if it were down to caffeine alone, we might expect you to need 4-10 cups of tea to get your usual dosage. Have you tried drinking that much tea? It seems like a lot (but that also seems like a lot of coffee to me. I don't think I've ever had more than 2 cups a day, and usually stick to 0 or 1).

      1 vote
      1. [6]
        vegai
        Link Parent
        Well, let's see. It's mostly green tea I consume, and I drink roughly 2-3 litres of it when I'm off coffee. A cup is 250ml, so 2-5 cups would be 0,5-1,25l of coffee. I guess it's possible that I'm...

        Well, let's see. It's mostly green tea I consume, and I drink roughly 2-3 litres of it when I'm off coffee. A cup is 250ml, so 2-5 cups would be 0,5-1,25l of coffee. I guess it's possible that I'm actually getting less caffeine from the tea, especially since it's spread out over the day more.

        Dunno if that explains the continuing craving during a break (even after several weeks) and the instant and very different buzz that coffee gives.

        2 votes
        1. JoylessAubergine
          Link Parent
          Tea contains an amino acid called l-theanine which is a relaxant and helps with anxiety, the effect actually increases when mixed with caffeine which is one reason why you dont get a coffee-like...

          Tea contains an amino acid called l-theanine which is a relaxant and helps with anxiety, the effect actually increases when mixed with caffeine which is one reason why you dont get a coffee-like buzz with most tea.

          4 votes
        2. [4]
          Thra11
          Link Parent
          Apparently, a cup of green tea contains slightly less caffeine (~33mg) than black tea. However, given those quantities... 2-3 litres @ 132mg/litre = 264-396mg caffeine in the green tea 0,5-1,25...

          Apparently, a cup of green tea contains slightly less caffeine (~33mg) than black tea. However, given those quantities...

          2-3 litres @ 132mg/litre = 264-396mg caffeine in the green tea
          0,5-1,25 litres @ 380mg/litre = 190-475mg caffeine in the coffees

          So, on average (330mg vs. 332mg) they're about the same quantity of caffeine.

          it's spread out over the day more.

          I wonder if there's some sort of threshold you need to get over to suppress some of the withdrawal effects, and the more spread out dosage isn't quite getting there.

          2 votes
          1. [3]
            sandaltree
            Link Parent
            It's a common misconception that green tea contains less caffeine than black tea. See here: https://camellia-sinensis.com/en/analysis-of-caffeine. Mostly it has to with other factors. The studies...

            It's a common misconception that green tea contains less caffeine than black tea. See here: https://camellia-sinensis.com/en/analysis-of-caffeine. Mostly it has to with other factors. The studies are also published, but at least for me they are paywalled. Matcha is the way to go if you want to get a caffeine kick from tea.

            1 vote
            1. [2]
              Thra11
              Link Parent
              Do you have any other sources, as that one doesn't appear to properly describe their method? It's not clear if they're trying to keep everything constant apart from the leaves, or whether they're...

              Do you have any other sources, as that one doesn't appear to properly describe their method? It's not clear if they're trying to keep everything constant apart from the leaves, or whether they're brewing each tea as it would 'normally' be brewed. Green teas are usually brewed using cooler water, which may reduce caffeine extraction.

              1 vote
              1. sandaltree
                Link Parent
                It does say: But yeah, that was just a quick find and it's not a proper research article. The articles I found were paywalled, and I don't have time to do a deep dive into it at the moment. But we...

                It does say:

                The analyses were conducted so that the results reflect what the tea drinker gets from their cup, in the context of daily consumption.

                But yeah, that was just a quick find and it's not a proper research article. The articles I found were paywalled, and I don't have time to do a deep dive into it at the moment. But we can at least conclude there are a multitude of factors that go into it.

                2 votes
  8. Eric_the_Cerise
    Link
    Coincidentally, I just quit caffeine about a month ago ... probably just temporary, but I don't know when/if I'll go back. I did have headache and tired/fuzzy feeling for ~2 days after quitting --...

    Coincidentally, I just quit caffeine about a month ago ... probably just temporary, but I don't know when/if I'll go back. I did have headache and tired/fuzzy feeling for ~2 days after quitting -- although I was also fasting at the time, so hard to say what caused what.

    But really, since then, I haven't noticed much difference in my mental acuity or anything. I just feel back to normal (whatever that means).

    2 votes