Is it time for a coffee break?
November 11, 2022

Is it time for a coffee break?

Signs that it might be time to take a break from coffee & reset your system.

Your morning routine is a significant part of your life, setting the tone for everything to come in the day ahead. If you’re like most people, that morning routine may not feel complete without your daily cup of coffee (or two, or more). Coffee is one of the most popular beverages in the world, with more than 66 percent of Americans imbibing it on a daily basis.¹ 
Coffee can be a comforting ritual whether you like to sip it first thing in the morning while still snuggled in blankets or if you enjoy a cup of coffee in the afternoon with coworkers to refresh your spirit for the rest of the day. There’s some good news for coffee drinkers too, since it is high in antioxidants and studies have shown it lowers the risk of alheizmers, diabetes, cancer, and Parkinson's disease.² 
But coffee, primarily because of its high caffeine content, is not without its downsides. Studies have also shown that coffee can disrupt hormones, and possibly raise risks for coronary disease.³ Moreover, caffeine dependence can lead to a number of withdrawal effects including headache, fatigue, muscle exhaustion, irritability and brain fog.⁴ 
If you’ve ever noticed a headache coming on when you don’t get your morning cup of coffee, or if you feel like you can’t make it through the afternoon with an iced latte as a pick-me-up, it may be time to reevaluate your relationship with coffee. Here are a few signs that it might be time to take a break from coffee to reset your system:
  • You can’t get to sleep at night - Caffeine affects everyone differently so while some folks might be able to have an afternoon cup of joe and settle down to sleep by 10pm, others might still be feeling wired and awake for hours more. Caffeine can have disruptive effects on your sleep, even when you drink it a full six hours before bedtime.⁵ If you’re having trouble getting to sleep at night, your coffee habit may be to blame.

  • You’re replacing meals with caffeine - Dr. Mark Hyman, M.D. and leader in functional medicine, says he often sees patients who use coffee as a placeholder for real food.⁶ If you’re warding off your body’s hunger cues with caffeine, it's a sign you need to make a change in your habits. Start eating whole foods that help balance blood sugar, rather than replacing breakfast with a quick cup of coffee.

  • You can’t function without it - If you feel like you can’t make it through the day without coffee, and struggle with irritability and headaches before you’re halfway through the morning, take that as a warning that your body needs a break NOW. The inability to function without coffee is a sure sign of caffeine dependency, which will only get worse with time. Take the break now, your body will thank you later.

  • You’re feeling increasingly anxious - Since caffeine can mess with your hormones, it can also alter your mood. High levels of caffeine consumption have been associated with higher rates of anxiety and even depression.⁷ If you notice yourself feeling a bit more on edge than usual, it may be that you need to cut back on coffee for a while to allow your body to reset.

Honestly, it’s important to take a coffee break every once in a while, if for no other reason than to curb your body’s tendency to develop a tolerance to caffeine. Our bodies crave homeostasis, so eventually that single cup of coffee isn’t going to give you that same jolt it did in the first place. Keeping your caffeine intake in check with regular breaks can ensure that you enjoy the benefits of coffee in the long run. 

So what can you drink in the meantime while you’re on your coffee hiatus? If you’re looking to cut back but not entirely eliminate caffeine, you can switch to green tea, another excellent source of antioxidants. Drinking hot lemon water can be a great reset for your metabolism while you give caffeine a break as well. Any hot beverage can give you that same sense of ritual, which you may come to enjoy just as much as your morning coffee, without the crash that comes later. 

Sources Referenced:
¹ Spring 2022 NCDT Report
² PMID: 21432699
³ PMID: 21432699
⁴ PMID: 15448977
⁵ PMID: 24235903
⁶ Dr. Hyman - Is Coffee Good or Bad for You?
⁷ PMID: 15732884