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6 Caffeine Withdrawal Symptoms: How Long It Lasts & Recovery Tips

person withdrawing from caffeine

If you are a long-time coffee drinker trying to quit, you might be surprised to learn that you will need to suffer through a short withdrawal period. How badly you are affected will vary based on several factors. Here, we list several caffeine withdrawal symptoms and what steps you can take to recover.

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Top 6 Caffeine Withdrawal Symptoms

1. Caffeine Withdrawal Headache

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One of the most difficult parts of giving up coffee is dealing with the withdrawal headache that often occurs. The pain can be quite intense and can last for several hours.

How Can I Recover?

  • A cold, damp cloth can help soothe the pain if you have a caffeine headache. An Advil or Tylenol can also help speed up your recovery time. However, the safest and best way to get past the headache is to take a nap, and when you wake up, your headache will usually be gone.

2. Exhaustion and Lack of Energy

A common withdrawal symptom associated with a lack of coffee is exhaustion and a general lack of energy. This symptom is usually one of the first to kick in.

How Can I Recover?

  • Most of us recover energy by drinking coffee. However, if you are trying to quit, you will need to press through it. Friends and family can help keep you motivated, and they may even help pick up the slack for a day while you are recovering.

3. Restlessness and Sleeplessness

Withdrawal can start to make you feel restless and jittery. You may find yourself tapping your fingers or feet more than usual. Excessive talking can also occur, and it can be difficult to fall asleep at the end of the day.

How Can I Recover?

  • As long as you don’t have work in the morning, the extra energy can help you catch up on television shows that you have missed or get chores done. However, if you need to go to bed, it can be helpful to take a short walk or even a quick jog to burn off the extra energy.
sleepless woman in bed
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4. Dizziness and Nausea

Unfortunately, dizziness and nausea can be among the more painful and disorienting aspects of caffeine withdrawal. Dizziness can even lead to injury. That said, not everyone experiences these symptoms.

How Can I Recover?

  • The best way to recover from dizziness and nausea is to find a comfortable spot and wait it out. The more you move around, the worse that you might feel. You mustn’t operate any heavy machinery, like an automobile if you feel dizzy or nauseated. We recommend that you don’t plan any trips for a few days after you stop drinking coffee, especially if you are a long-time user with a tendency to feel sick or dizzy.

5. Constipation

Coffee is a mild laxative, so if that is the primary way that you get your caffeine, you might experience a slight bout of constipation when you first stop drinking it.

How Can I Recover?

  • We recommend drinking plenty of water as soon as you stop drinking coffee. Increasing your fiber intake can also help, as can over-the-counter laxatives. However, it will likely pass quickly without the need for medication.
constipated woman
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6. Irritability

For many people, it is hard to get the day started without morning coffee because they are already feeling the effects of caffeine withdrawal. One symptom that goes hand in hand with a lack of energy is irritability. Unfortunately, if you have quit drinking coffee, you will need to work through it.

How Can I Recover?

  • This symptom, like the others, will pass, and people will slowly start to want to be around you again. We recommend taking a personal vacation if possible and isolating yourself from the world for a few days. You’ll get plenty of sleep to avoid headaches and cravings, and there will be fewer things to annoy you.

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When Does Caffeine Withdrawal Begin?

How long it takes for caffeine withdrawal to set in will depend on how much coffee you drink. For most people, it will start to set in about 24 hours after their last cup. The morning is a trigger for many people because their first cup is an important part of their daily routine, so it’s usually the first thing that they notice, and withdrawal symptoms will begin soon after.

sleep alarm
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How Long Does Caffeine Withdrawal Last?

The hard part of caffeine withdrawal should pass relatively quickly, usually within 1–2 days, but you will likely notice minor symptoms for 1 week or more, especially if you drank several cups a day for an extended period.

Caffeine Withdrawal Timeline

  • Around 18–24 hours after your last cup of coffee, you will likely start to crave a cup. This first step is difficult to get past, especially at breakfast before a workday. You will also likely feel lethargic, and irritability can start to set in.
  • Around 24–36 hours after your last cup of coffee will likely see you feeling tired, lethargic, and cranky, and you may even be constipated. This time is when many arguments and other problems can occur because you are not yet used to life without caffeine. Toward the end of this period, you will also likely start to get a headache.
  • Around 36–48 hours after you stop drinking coffee is likely when any bad headaches will occur. You may also feel nauseated and dizzy at this time. If you don’t have a headache, you may be experiencing restlessness, which can make it difficult to sleep.
  • After 48 hours, your withdrawal symptoms will begin to subside, and life will return to normal. You may notice continued constipation, and if so, you may need to resort to laxatives. It’s also common to be a little irritable, especially in the morning, until you find a new routine. The lethargy will fade, as will any sleeplessness, but if you are still experiencing major symptoms after a week, we recommend consulting your physician.

How Can I Minimize My Symptoms?

Many people recommend cutting a daily coffee intake in half to help minimize caffeine withdrawal symptoms, which can be a great method for some people. However, it also lengthens the amount of time that you need to spend quitting, and many people go back to drinking coffee as usual.

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Caffeine addiction can be difficult to get through, but it’s quite possible and does not come with any serious symptoms. Most people have a headache the next day, and that’s about it. Overall, recovery seems quick.

Featured Image Credit: Andrey_Popov, Shutterstock


Ed Malaker

Ed Malaker, a veteran writer, has contributed to a wide range of blogs that cover tools, pets, guitars, fitness, and computer programming, and of course, coffee. He drinks a lot of it when he writes, making him an expert indeed. When he’s not writing, Ed is usually performing DIY projects around the house or working in the garden. He’s also a musician and spends a lot of time helping people fix their guitars and composing music for independent films.

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