Caffeine is a common psychoactive ingredient that is most consumed in the world. It works as a stimulant for the central nervous system by working reducing fatigue and increasing alertness. Caffeine works by affecting the neural activity in the brain.
Caffeine, like every other psychoactive ingredient, has addictive tendencies, and the body can also get addicted to it. Like all addictions, having to stop it from one’s diet would lead to withdrawal symptoms. The withdrawal symptoms only tend to start between 12 to 24 hours of not consuming caffeine.
Like any other medical condition that can be diagnosed, so also is caffeine withdrawal. Any regular consumer of caffeine has the likelihood of getting this medical condition.
There are symptoms and signs to look out for in caffeine withdrawal. Below are the eight most common symptoms and signs.
The first most common symptom to look out for in caffeine withdrawal is headaches. The presence of caffeine in the bloodstream causes a constriction of the brain blood vessels and subsequently lowers the flow of blood.
A study into the activity of caffeine in the brain was able to establish that between 2 to 3 cups of coffee is enough to reduce blood flow to the brain by 27 per cent.
Suppose the consumption of caffeine would result in the constriction of the brain blood vessels. It is only right that stopping the consumption, on the other hand, would open up the brain’s blood vessels.
This change that occurs suddenly in how blood flows is what causes withdrawal headaches. This headache can occur in various degrees of severity and length depending on the brain’s adaptation to blood increase.
The brain’s adaptation to the blood flow increase would make the headache reduce.
Withdrawal from caffeine, despite it resulting in headache, in the same way, can caffeine be used as a treatment for a greater form of headache known as migraine. This might look contradicting, but it is not farfetched. Caffeine works as an activator in the cure for migraines. It does not act independently but rather works with pain-relieving drugs to make them more potent in combating the headache.
Removing caffeine from the bloodstream causes the brain’s blood flow to increase and, as such, results in headaches for some.
So many people have become dependent on energy boosts to go about their daily activities, and coffee turns out to be the go-to drink.
One way in which caffeine functions is by reducing fatigue and increasing alertness. It does this function by obstructing a neurotransmitter called adenosine receptors that causes drowsiness.
This is the activity taking place in the body when it improves your workout performance, reduces tiredness, and also boosts your Energy.
Now reversing this function would also result in the reverse effects. Rather than eliminating fatigue and drowsiness, withdrawal from caffeine would now result in fatigue and drowsiness.
For instance, the 2013 study conducted on typical consumers of caffeine was able to point out that staying away from coffee for an estimated 16 hours is enough to cause an excess fatigue feeling.
The degree of fatigue was dependent on the frequency of consumption. The more frequent the consumption, the more the withdrawal symptoms. This was evident in the comparison of those who take coffee daily and those who only take it some days of the week.
Furthermore, the energizing effects that come with it only last for roughly 4 to 6 hours within the body. This often leads to the consumption of multiple cups in a day to achieve the required energy for the entire day.
Taking so much coffee sometimes often results in a dependency that subsequently makes the symptoms of coffee withdrawal a lot worse.
The action of coffee in the body is that of a stimulant. This makes it a whole lot more difficult to get off consuming it, and this causes drowsiness and extreme fatigue.
The blood pressure, epinephrine, cortisol of stress hormones, and heart rates can all be increased with the help of a stimulant like caffeine. Normally, a cup of coffee is not enough to cause anxiety and make one feel jittery. On the other hand, for anyone who is caffeine extra sensitive, it can cause anxiety and edginess.
In the same way in which the consumption of caffeine can result in anxiety, so also can the withdrawal of caffeine also causes the same anxiety. This symptom is one that is common with coffee withdrawal. The body tends to become reliant on caffeine both psychologically and mentally, which makes stopping the consumption result in anxiety.
The form in which the caffeine is consumed also has an effect on the degree of anxiety caused by withdrawal from caffeine. Those who take their caffeine in the sweetened form or soda form might have an even worse form of anxiety. This fact is not drawn from baseless conclusions. A study on animals was able to establish that sudden removal of sweets from diet after a while tends to cause anxiety on its own.
The dependency of the body on caffeine can cause anxiety during withdrawal from caffeine. This dependency can be both psychological and physical.
- Trouble Concentrating
Helping to boost concentration is one key reason for people to drink caffeinated drinks, most especially tea, energy drinks, and coffee. These caffeinated drinks are often taken to help focus better, especially during athletic events, presentations, or even tests.
The normal reaction of the body to stress is for the adrenal glands to produce the adrenaline hormone. The presence of caffeine in the body causes this adrenaline hormone to increase. Beyond that, it also increases the action of norepinephrine and neurotransmitters dopamine which arouses the brain, increases blood pressure and heart rate. This blend of reactions all causes improved focus and alertness.
Withdrawing from caffeine would cause the body trouble concentrating. This is because the body would begin to try to adjust to its functions without the help of a caffeine boost.
Concentration becomes better with the presence of caffeine in the body, which acts to increase the level of some hormones and neurotransmitters. Having to stop or reduce the use of caffeine in boosting concentration might result in difficulty concentrating.
- Depressed Mood
Boosting one’s mood is one use that makes caffeine popular. This effect is due to the capacity of caffeine to stop adenosine.
A study on regular caffeine consumers was able to identify that those who take an average of 1.5 milligrams of each kilogram of their weight experienced a better mood in comparison to the others who were given a placebo. Furthermore, lots of other studies have also been able to establish a lower risk of being depressed with consuming caffeine.
For instance, a study with over 50000 women was able to establish that women who took little to no coffee were more at risk of depression than those who took an average of four cups of coffee every day.
The stimulating effect found in coffee causes a general healthy feeling. This healthy feeling can come to an end with withdrawal from caffeine.
A healthy feeling that increases alertness comes with the consumption of caffeine. Withdrawing from caffeine can cause a downcast feeling of depression.
It isn’t farfetched for those who consume coffee regularly to get irritated before they take their cup of coffee in the morning. This cranky feeling is the responsibility of the caffeine present in coffee.
Being irritated in the morning is due to the fact that the lifespan of coffee in the body is a short one of about four to six hours. The effect of crankiness in the morning is a result of a partial withdrawal symptom from caffeine.
Regular consumers of coffee are already used to getting the needed energy boost from coffee, and withdrawing from it even for just a night would cause them to be cranky, moody, and irritated. Even a small change like a reduction in quantity consumed is enough to cause this withdrawal symptom that affects their mood.
A study on some adults who were caffeine-dependent showed about 89 percent of the study group to have severe crankiness, anger, and irritation that could not make them cut back on their caffeine consumption.
Caffeine-dependent individuals exhibit crankiness and irritation when trying to cut down on coffee intake.
This is an uncommon symptom compared to others. Caffeine withdrawal can result in tremors. This is because caffeine relates to the central nervous system and it stimulates it. This can cause anxiety which is why people with anxiety disorders are strongly advised against consuming caffeine as it could make it worse.
People who consume caffeine in large quantities and try to withdraw tends to have tremors.
The tremors associated with withdrawal from caffeine often last between two to nine days and only occur in the hand. Once the hand tremors last longer than nine days, it is important to visit a physician to rule out any other possible complications.
Tremors are symptoms of both coffee withdrawal and excess consumption of caffeine. This symptom is not pertinent to every coffee consumer.
- Little Energy
The primary purpose of drinking caffeinated drinks and foods is primarily to get more Energy, avoid falling asleep and avoid being tired. Day-to-day activities require Energy and tend to drain people of Energy faster than one could think. To supplement the Energy gotten from foods and nutrients is why people reach out to caffeinated drinks to get enough to take them through the day.
Using caffeine to get through the day sometimes makes one’s blood sugar and heart rate increase. It helps by increasing your mental and physical energy but also makes one become dependent on caffeine. This means without it, one wouldn’t be able to get enough energy and would make one continue to take more and more caffeine to go through each day. With this, having to withdraw from caffeine would cause the opposite and not have enough Energy, hereby causing little Energy.
More Energy is a benefit of caffeine, and withdrawing from it can cause little Energy.
How to Lessen the Symptoms of Caffeine Withdrawal
Withdrawal symptoms of caffeine are usually from two to nine days. The timeline in which the symptoms are usually the worst is between 24 to 51 hours of staying away from caffeine. These symptoms don’t last longer than nine days which shows how short they can be, but it is usually a very painful process.
Luckily, the experiences of these side effects can be reduced. Here are five ways to limit or stop the side effects of caffeine withdrawal.
- Reduce your consumption slowly: Making the withdrawal process a gradual one would help reduce the symptoms compared to stopping it outrightly.
- Reducing the concentration gradually: Another way to limit withdrawal symptoms is to gradually reduce the concentration. Rather than consuming your coffee black, you could switch to decafs or switch from coffee to herbal teas first.
- Remain hydrated: Drinking a lot of water as you gradually withdraw from caffeine would help with the symptoms by reducing how fatigued you get during this transition.
- Getting enough rest: Sleeping well at night helps to reduce how fatigued you get during the day. Seven to nine hours of rest every night is the best average sleep to help reduce fatigue.
- Increase Energy through natural sources: To help reduce fatigue, eating energy-rich food and having a properly balanced diet would help limit the symptoms. This method can help you get enough Energy after successfully withdrawing from caffeine.
Gradually reducing caffeine consumption, its concentration, drinking plenty of water, getting good rest, and relying on natural nutrient sources for Energy would help limit the symptoms of withdrawing from caffeine.
The salient point
Withdrawal symptoms in caffeine consumption are caused because of the stimulating effect found in caffeine. It can happen to anyone who stops consuming caffeine suddenly.
Headaches, fatigue, anxiety, little Energy, crankiness, depressed mood, trouble concentrating and tremors, are all symptoms commonly associated with caffeine withdrawal and can which can be between two to nine days.
These symptoms can be reduced by gradually reducing caffeine consumption, its concentration, drinking plenty of water, getting good rest, and relying on natural nutrient sources for Energy.
No matter how hard the withdrawal symptoms are, they are all in a bid to reduce how dependent you are on caffeine.