Are you someone that jokes with your friends over your need for a cup of coffee before you leave the house each morning? Have you caught yourself at work, or while running errands, feeling drained due to a lack of your normal afternoon caffeine jolt? If so, don’t feel alone. Many of us feel the same way. But, you may be asking yourself, am I addicted to caffeine?
Caffeine is a drug we use to stimulate our brains and make us feel more awake. It doesn’t present the same dangers as other drugs available on (or off) the market, but that doesn’t mean a person can’t become addicted. Let’s take a look at ways you can tell if you’re addicted to caffeine and how that may affect your life.
How Caffeine Works
Caffeine stimulates the nervous system and acts as a stimulant to the body. When you ingest caffeine, either through eating or drinking, your brain clears and you’ll feel more energized. This is why so many people use a caffeine boost when they start their day. Unfortunately, certain people are more sensitive to caffeine and what it provides the body. This allows them to become more dependent on caffeine without even knowing it. When this happens, you may feel withdrawal symptoms when you go without caffeine for certain lengths of time.
Being addicted to caffeine means you suffer withdrawal symptoms when you aren’t getting your fix each day. Let’s take a look at a few of the most common caffeine withdrawal symptoms to help you better understand if you’re suffering from caffeine addiction.
One of the most common symptoms you’re addicted to caffeine is a headache. If you go without your normal amount of caffeine in a day, you may feel a headache begin. On the flip side, due to caffeine’s ability to narrow our blood vessels, it’s considered a natural headache reliever. Is this why we experience headaches when caffeine is taken out of the equation? Not necessarily. The headaches can be your body’s way of indicating something is missing that it has become accustomed to.
Caffeine makes us feel good by stimulating our brains. For those who become addicted to caffeine, removing it completely from your daily intake can leave you in a bad mood. Have you ever felt irritable before you get that first cup of coffee? That’s why. Your body is waiting on the caffeine boost to get going. Without it, you may go through several days of being in a bad mood.
This is the symptom we all expect when we go without caffeine. Unfortunately, it’s also a sign that you’re addicted to it. If you feel sluggish and can’t seem to concentrate without the help of caffeine, most likely your body has become dependent on the stimulation caffeine offers. You may also lose the psychological energy you get by having caffeine. This will make you feel your sluggishness even more throughout your day.
For certain people, caffeine can cause stomach issues. Constipation or frequent trips to the bathroom seem to happen for those with low tolerance to caffeine in their systems. For those who don’t suffer from these issues, and are addicted to caffeine, these symptoms may not pop up until you’re without your favorite caffeinated beverages. It’s possible to feel like you can’t go to the bathroom as needed, or even feel nauseated if you don’t have your caffeine each day. Tummy troubles are a slippery slope to manage when it comes to caffeine addiction and use.
If you’re addicted to caffeine and suddenly go without it, you may experience body aches. These aches are like those you suffer when dealing with the flu or other illnesses. Backaches, leg cramps, and even weakness are common when you’re addicted to caffeine and don’t have it as much as your body would like.
What You Can Do
If you’ve concluded that you’re addicted to caffeine, there are some things you can do to help ease the symptoms of withdrawal. Let’s take a look at them now.
Lower Your Caffeine Intake
Stopping cold turkey may not be the answer. Instead, slowly lower the amount of caffeine you consume each day. Start with replacing one caffeinated beverage a day with something non-caffeinated. Like with anything, this will take time to do. You can slowly switch out the caffeine you’re ingesting for something less addicting until you feel you’ve reached tolerable levels.
Drink More Water
Water is great for our bodies. It also makes us feel full. By increasing your water intake your body may not crave caffeine because it feels more nourished and fulfilled.
Get More Exercise
Exercise is a natural stimulant to our bodies. If you want to lower your dependency on caffeine, exercise is a great trade. Your body will be stimulated, feel better, and you may even lose those couple of extra pounds you wanted rid of.
It’s not uncommon for someone to become addicted to caffeine. If you feel you are, you shouldn’t blame yourself. With our lives being as hectic as they are, it’s natural to need something to help us through the day. Luckily, if you’re struggling with caffeine and need to step back, there are ways to do it without feeling as though you’re having the worst day ever.
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Featured Image Credit: Clay Banks, Pexels