A month ago I decided I was going to stop drinking coffee for 30 days and said:
I’m going to stop drinking coffee, which will give me a new baseline for what ‘tired’ feels like. I’ll start going to bed earlier to help my body recover better and maybe my blood pressure will come down. Even if the latter doesn’t happen, getting more sleep is a good thing and maybe I’ll feel more alert, clearer in mind, better able to tackle the day.
I’m happy to report that going without coffee or caffeine was remarkably easy and I didn’t notice any significant withdrawal symptoms despite the high levels of coffee I drink. While I didn’t miss the caffeine especially, I absolutely missed the ritual and habit of having a coffee. Throughout the day, there are so many points where I always have a coffee and suddenly not having one felt weird.
Another good habit of not drinking coffee, I’m naturally drinking a lot more water. While I do drink water across an average day, I’d generally get most of my liquid intake through coffee so this was a heathy improvement.
I had hoped that I could find some objective measure that quitting coffee had an impact. Coincidentally, I have a Garmin Fenix 6 running watch and it measures a lot of different aspects of your health on an ongoing basis.
Heart Rate Variability
According to Garmin, a HRV between 60-80ms is a normal range. While I have periods where it is in the normal/green zone, I am often orange (slightly below) or even red (significantly below). As soon as I stopped drinking coffee, my Heart Rate Variability started to improve and has remained consistently in the normal range.
One of the goals of this challenge was to go to bed earlier and get more overall sleep. My total sleep time has increased slightly, but I haven’t been very successful on this goal yet.
However, while I’m not getting a lot more sleep, my sleep quality has improved significantly. In the lefthand side of the chart below, my sleep quality is lower overall and also quite variable. After quitting coffee, it has improved on average and varies a lot less.
While drinking coffee, I could get to sleep easily but I’d often wake up throughout the night – sometimes one or twice and on a restless night maybe up to five times. Over the last month, on average I’m not waking up at all and my Garmin watch is measuring single digits of ‘awake’ time. Caffeine is a diuretic, which causes you to need to urinate more often and during the night I am not getting up for any bathroom breaks either which is great.
Stress can be caused by a lot of different factors such as physical, emotional and many more. I don’t think caffeine on its own is responsible but it might contribute to it since it is a stimulant. Regardless, my stress levels have trended down and are more stable than beforehand. This might in part be due to getting better quality sleep and being more rested/recovered each day.
I haven’t taken my blood pressure many times over the last month, but it has been in the correct range which is good. If I can adjust my schedule and increase my total sleep time, I’ll definitely start checking it more often to see if there is any change or if I feel the low blood pressure by getting dizzy or light headed with certain activities.
I’m going to continue with my no coffee effort & report back if anything changes once I adjust my sleep schedule.