If sleep is a problem, you know as well as I do that at some point, the caffeine has to go. Trouble is that caffeine, even in small doses, blocks sleep neurotransmitters, the calming chemicals your body makes to make you sleepy.
Caffeine is a powerful stimulant with effects that can last up to seven hours. And for people who have liver problems, or who are taking oral contraceptives or other medications, caffeine’s effects can last even longer! It interferes with the body’s natural regulatory rhythms and chronic use of it can leave one perpetually out of balance — and regularly struggling for sleep.
My advice? Let it go! Free your body and wallet from the grip of caffeine addiction — but take it slowly. Start by weaning yourself off main offenders such as colas (even Diet Coke!), energy drinks, and chocolate. And then start eliminating those not-so-obvious sources, like decaf coffee, some herbal teas, some sodas (root beer, Mountain Dew, Sunkist Orange) and even some over the counter medications such as Anacin and Excedrin.
From there, it’s on to the big one: coffee. The best way to kick coffee is to taper off in small increments so as not to trigger the junkie-like withdrawal symptoms (especially the headaches). The mission is to slowly dial down your caffeine consumption so your body can acclimate over time.
Here’s a painless strategy to try when you’re finally ready to unhook from the caffeine drip:
Day 1: Today, have your usual amount of coffee.
Day 2 – Day 5: Blend your regular coffee with 50% decaf (preferably certified organic). Drink that for the next three days.
Day 6: Have 25% regular coffee, 75% decaf for one day.
Day 7: Start drinking pure decaf.
Care to take it a step further? Then try this idea one patient came up with to help break his $80 weekly Starbucks habit. He added two more weeks to his program to kick coffee altogether.