Caffeine is the byproduct of certain plants, naturally found in tea and coffee. It is added artificially to commercial drinks, chocolate, cocoa and some over-the-counter and prescription drugs. Caffeine is a stimulant to the central nervous system, and for some people, even one cup of coffee a day may be too stimulating, causing nervousness, jitters and insomnia. Quitting caffeine may temporarily create a rebound effect for those who are sensitive, causing an increased pulse rate, fatigue and lassitude.
Affects of Caffeine on the Body
Because caffeine is a stimulant, drinking coffee, tea or other caffeine-laden products may cause an increase in alertness, insomnia, jitters, elevated heart rate, muscle cramps, elevated blood sugar, dizziness, breathing difficulties, excess thirst, anxiety, panic attacks, irritability, blurry vision, increased urination and vasospasms, or contractions in the small blood vessels.
Consuming 1,000 milligrams, or 10 six-ounce cups of caffeinated coffee or other caffeinated beverages a day may produce significant side effects, according to the University of Michigan Health Service 1. Some of the many possible side effects may appear as severe acid reflux, changes in digestion and bowel habits, problems conceiving, insomnia and sleep deprivation, depression, tremors, excess sweating, nervousness and systemic inflammation causing pain throughout the body.
Habitual use of caffeine may provide a short-term pick-me-up; however, as its effects wear off after you've stopped drinking it, there's often a rebound effect, which may increase symptoms such as an elevation in pulse rate, blood pressure and nervousness. The rebound effect may interfere with your circadian rhythm, disrupting your natural waking and sleep patterns, cause feelings of exhaustion, lethargy, and mental and physical lassitude.
Giving up Caffeine
Quitting caffeine may feel like a huge challenge at first, especially if your body is in rebound and you're reacting. It may be helpful to reduce your caffeine consumption slowly, rather than going "cold turkey" and stopping completely, especially if you consume large amounts of coffee, tea or sodas containing caffeine. By reducing your intake in stages, you may help lessen the rebound of an increase in your blood pressure, heart rate, anxiety levels and other unpleasant side effects. Switch to a drink with less caffeine, such as green tea or yerba mate tea. Limit the number of cups you drink each day, reducing that number over a period of a few days. Allow yourself about a month or so to slowly quit caffeine. Over time, your body should return to its normal rhythm and any rebound symptoms should fade. Monitor your body's emotional and physical signs and have your vital signs taken to make sure that they return to normal.
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