Sunday, June 20, 2010

Quitting Coffee

It has been four weeks since I quit*; it had been four years since my relationship with coffee began. I am glad to put that period of my life behind me.

After years of looking for more time in my day, I thought I had found the solution by including coffee in my morning routine and decreasing my quantity of sleep. My decision had been backed by some pop scientific research that coffee could be a health drink: the negative correlation between coffee and Alzheimer's, the negative correlation between coffee and gout, etc. (In fact, I have a blog post here about why I started drinking coffee.)

My decision to quit was driven by several reasons. I found that I sleep better (at the right times and more deeply) when I haven't had coffee, coffee is hard on my stomach, and that I had become quite addicted (in that I function significantly more poorly in the absence thereof). I had also developed an awareness of and distaste for how wound up coffee makes me.

Quitting has been difficult for the obvious alertness reasons. In addition, my concentration got worse and I felt hungry more often. My hypothesis is that as a stimulant, caffeine stimulates the part of my brain that helps me focus. The hunger can be explained by the "fact" (checked against the internet) that caffeine can be an appetite suppressant. Not being caffeinated has also made social interactions more difficult, perhaps because it has become more difficult to focus on conversations. The good news is that all of these issues have (slowly) been going away.

Despite the challenges, I have been enjoying my coffee-free existence. My quality of sleep has improved, which has helped me to be more naturally alert and focused. It has been a relief not to have to look for sources of caffeine on weekends and when out of town. In general, I have been feeling less wound up and more well.

For those of you thinking about quitting: don't be afraid to do it!

* Somewhat ironic is that it happened the day I arrived in Seattle. I have since had decaf twice, but that is it.


Brian Burg said...

I doubt I'll ever quit completely, but I definitely have scaled down my normal consumption of coffee. The fact that my office is quite far from the comfort of my favorite coffee beans and grinder helps a lot. The coffee machine at MSR only gets used if i've had a late night.

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