I have had a very foggy brain for the last couple of days, quite delibitating to be honest. I have slept so much it would have been worrying if I didn’t know the cause.

A lifelong coffee drinker, I have had several periods of my life when I didn’t consume any coffee, preferring herbal teas and water.  When I was a vegetarian and consumed dairy milk, I drank milky coffee and thought I really didn’t like black coffee.  Some time into being vegan, however, I tried black coffee and realised I had been wrong all along!  It was heavenly!  I really like coffee, I love the whole sensory experience of it…the smell, the taste, the ritual of making the cafetiere… it all contributes to the experience of it.

What I don’t like is the effect it has on my wellbeing.

I was aware of the negative impact coffee had on my sleep and energy levels, however.  Sometimes when I had drunk one or two cups too many I would feel that unnerving fluttering in my heart, I would struggle with sleeplessness more, and a day or two of no coffee would leave me with a pounding headache that rendered me almost helpless.  This is not good, withdrawal effects mean that dependence is setting in.  In long term recovery from alcohol and cigarette addiction, I don’t want to find myself addicted to another substance.

I have quit coffee in the past for quite a long time, and know that my reasons for returning to it are classic addicts’ justification (but I like it….I can control my consumption….it doesn’t affect me like that anymore….just the one….I can stop whenever I want).

I have identified addictive behaviour, so I owe it to myself to remove it.  I know that when I was clear of coffee in the past I had more energy,  slept better, ate better, and had greater clarity and focus.  I much prefer living like that!

So, yet again, I am attempting to rid myself of coffee.  I am 2 days clean of caffeine, and drinking herbal tea by the pint (literally, my tea cups are pint glasses!).   I have promised myself that when I have done a month, I am going to treat myself to some of the amazing teas my friend Kerry, of Leaf and Petal, sells! (I have some of her Chill Out tea, it is wonderful!)

This is the first time in the last 36 hours that sitting at my laptop hasn’t hurt my head.  That I have been able to stay focussed on something besides an urge to sleep for more than 5 minutes.  I haven’t longed for bedtime for an hour or so.  I think I am through the worst of it.

Another cup of tea or two, and a good night’s sleep tonight, and I am sure I will be on top form tomorrow!

How to deal with caffeine withdrawal

I have been kind to myself through this detox, as I know that coffee withdrawal is a very real shock to the body.  These are the ways I have got myself through it.


I know that I have created this situation for myself, and it would be easy to recriminate and beat myself up for letting the caffeine consumption get this far.  That would not be helpful.  Instead, what I am going to do is focus on gratitude that I have taken action to help myself, and, as the caffeine leaves my body and my energy levels change, I will focus on the positives of coffee abstinence.  This is how I was able to enjoy my sobriety from alcohol in the early days, and I am sure it will work for coffee as well!


To rehydrate myself and help to flush out the coffee, I have drunk a lot of water.  This has mostly been in the form of herbal tea, but there has been a lot of plain water as well.


My body has needed, more than anything else, to rest.  The caffeine in my system has given me unnaturally altered energy levels, so I have been harnessing the restorative power of sleep to help it rebalance itself.  I’ve had some unnerving dreams, I am not sure if this is connected, but it has been quite unpleasant.  Still, the sleep has been, over all, much needed and blissful.


I have decided to give myself a reward when I get to 30 days coffee free.  The reward is going to take the form of some gorgeous loose leaf tea from Leaf and Petal, and I will enjoy drinking that knowing that I earned it by taking better care of myself.  Although I am rewarding myself after 30 days, I do intend this to be a permanent caffeine free life, not “promise that you’ll start again” as described in this article about ‘Sober October


My mind has been very erratic over the last two days, and focus has been a struggle.  Sitting and focusing on my breath has been really helpful, as the deep, slow breathing has eased my physical tension and given my mind something to hold onto.


I have found myself really craving fruit over the last 2 days.  This is not unusual, I am the daughter of a greengrocer, and have always eaten a lot of fruit, but it has felt like a need my body has, maybe replacing lost nutrients, maybe an energy need, I am not sure.  I haven’t been craving sugary food such as chocolate, so suspect it might be a nutrients issue.  Whatever it is, the satsumas have been delicious!!

I am glad to have been able to recognise this growing dependence on coffee and to nip it in the bud.  I have not enjoyed feeling grumpy and unproductive for the last couple of days, but look forward to things improving now!

Have you ditched coffee from your life?  How do you find a caffeine free life?  I’d love to hear, share in the comments below!

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Esther Nagle
Teacher, writer, speaker at Balance and Breathe
Esther is a former alcoholic, smoker and all round stressed out mess. She found the path to health, happiness, freedom and joy through Yoga. She is a passionate advocate for the power of Yoga, and time in Nature, in bringing balance to life, and giving you control over your health, happiness and wellbeing.

Esther is a powerful public speaker, writer and author. Her first book, Bent Back into Shape, Beating Addiction Through Yoga, has gained many 5 star reviews and has helped many people along their recovery journey.