Why I Wanted to Stop

After six years of coffee drinking, I decided to stop. “Why?” you ask. For a few reasons. I’ve been obsessed lately with Rangan Chatterjee’s podcast Feel Better Live More and he talks about coffee in a few of his episodes and the more I listened and learned the more I wondered how deeply it was affecting my sleep. After having twins sleep became oh so precious. I wanted to do everything in my power to take back control. Something that I felt I had unknowingly given away….and possibly to a liquid no less… I also just wanted to see if I could do it. If I didn’t NEED it. Then what would be the harm? So no reason not to try. There’s also the fact that I started drinking coffee for my husband. I know it sounds silly, but it’s true. I never had any interest in coffee in high school or college. It wasn’t until I was married and my husband became an avid lover of french pressed coffee that I decided to dabble in it. I learned that I preferred darker roast while the lighter stuff was too pungent. Then I tried a few that were actually darker roasts…and was corrected again. I learned I like the warm chocolatey flavors, in lieu of that a quarter cup of creamer would solve the issue. Guys…it looked like I was drinking a chocolate milkshake. I slowly started using less and less sugar. I finally started drinking it black about halfway through my coffee journey. I still didn’t really like the taste of it on many occasions or when my husband wanted to switch it up. So, it shouldn’t surprise you that I wasn’t sold on keeping it around anyways. 

Here’s What Happened

1. I became a little backed up. Oh yes, I’m going there…If you’ve seen any of my postpartum posts after the twins I talk about it then too. So you shouldn’t be surprised. If you are new, welcome to my frankness. I used to go every morning when I was in my teens. Somewhere between college and baby number one that stopped. After my firstborn, coffee helped keep me alert especially since I was pumping 40 oz per day and my commute was an hour and 15 minutes one way. I felt like I needed that coffee. I was also waking up in the night to do midnight pumps. How I did all that I don’t know. Pure determination I suppose. I refused to let him be a formula baby. Don’t worry… after having twins I’m firmly in the “fed is best” camp. Oh, the naivete of a first-time mom. But hey you don’t know what you don’t know, and now I KNOW. Nursing and pumping can be so incredibly hard. So yea, I drank coffee after my firstborn. I even labeled which bags were pumped before noon to ensure that any residual caffeine wasn’t given to him in the evenings. Sounds a little mad when I talk about it years later (he’s currently 6 years old). But that’s what I did. I needed it to get through those days.

I’ll widen the frame… Back then, I was working 40 hours a week. I had a daily commute to work of an hour and 15 minutes one way. No joke! I would leave my house at 5:30 in the morning before my little guy was even awake and would be home around 6 pm, weather depending. which meant I was gone for 11 hours and 30 minutes. I woke up at 5 to get ready. I would also wake up in the middle of the night to pump at midnight. At work, I pumped every hour on the hour. If I dipped below 40-43 oz per day I would increase to 30-minute intervals. It was an intense time. So, please acknowledge my coffee drinking with grace. It was how I survived back then.

On a personal note, I also happen to be very sensitive to coffee. I would immediately need to use the restroom, like two sips into my coffee. Which I was pretty excited about because I hadn’t been that kind of regular in a couple of years. Considering the energy I needed to continue that kind of pumping and sleep/wake schedule the extra jitter just turned into me looking like my normal self. 

Fast forward to my choice to eliminate coffee in a “cold turkey” fashion and the exact opposite became the case.

2. I was exhausted. I woke up groggy and tired and I was exhausted at 4 pm for the first 3 days. Then it just stopped. Cue happy squirrel Chaka from 2018 kind of energy. It was amazing! It took me a few days to get over the initial exhaustion. It was as if I was playing some major sleep catchup those first few days. I would equate that fatigue to pregnancy fatigue or day 5 of a new intense workout fatigue. Afterward, though I was so energetic. I’d pop out of bed ready to go. 

3. Hello insomnia. I slept poorly for the first 3 days then like a rock afterward, but that didn’t last. After I caught up on sleep insomnia set in. My husband also mentioned that I have been snoring more…maybe I’m getting that deeper sleep I’ve been missing? While I may be sleeping more deeply, I know snoring means I’m likely not maintaining quality sleep. It’s been a few weeks now and I’ve unfortunately converted to some serious insomnia. Considering I work the evening shift in front of a screen, don’t move as much as I used to, and have begun snoring I know there are more areas for improvement that need to be addressed. At this point though I wake up often in the night. three to four times? With no reasonable explanation. maybe it’s the lack of blackout curtains? I did remove our blinds recently and happened to purchase the wrong size curtain rod…

4. My mental health has greatly improved. After having my twins I went into a fairly moderate depression. I learned from my midwife that she believed I had postpartum depression (PPD) after my first pregnancy as well. I was completely caught off guard by this statement. I didn’t know I was depressed. Considering the ridiculous schedule I was working and pumping I didn’t have time to feel emotions. I was always exhausted and grinding on. When I learned I had PPD I started researching things that may cause anxiety and depression. Low and behold coffee can be a cause due to its jittery stimulant nature. There wasn’t a lot of information out there about it but what I could find all said basically the same thing. So I made sure to cut down to one cup only per day. That didn’t feel like enough though. I didn’t want to have anything hindering or affecting my mental state and happiness. I started researching coffee alternatives that may have less of an effect on my mental state. That’s when I learned about matcha. I’d tried it once before but didn’t think it was for me. Now it’s my drink de jour. 

The change in my mental state was profound though. I woke up feeling excited about the day. I wasn’t as irritable when my kids were wild. I could tune them out more effectively when they were behaving in ways that were unacceptable. I just felt like I was more in control of my life again. It was refreshing and empowering. I also stopped feeling so negative. There may be more to that. I am an avid listener of the Feel Better, Live More podcast hosted by Rangan Chatterjee. On his podcast, there are many episodes that discuss mental health and the mind-body connection. While I don’t have a regular mental practice I do try to do something thought-driven every day. Whether that means 2-5 minutes of meditation, thinking of things I’m grateful for, or taking a few slow deep breaths. 

Conclusion

I’m still not drinking coffee regularly. I do have a cup once every week or two if I don’t feel like making matcha and my husband has already made his french pressed coffee for the day. I’ve started drinking matcha as a replacement for my daily morning ritual. It’s still nice to have a warm cup of something to wake up to and the antioxidant content of matcha is an amazing incentive for me. While I must say the taste on the other hand was something that needed a bit of acclimation. All in all, I feel better and I’m happy with my choice. I still have other habits I’d like to shift, but giving up coffee as a daily habit is one I can check off my list! 

If you’re considering giving up coffee as a daily habit I highly encourage you to do so and hopefully, my experience will give you some insight as to what may lie in the wake of that decision.