If sleep is a problem, you know as well as I do that at some point, the caffeine has to go. Trouble is that caffeine, even in small doses, blocks sleep neurotransmitters, the calming chemicals your body makes to make you sleepy. Caffeine is a powerful stimulant with effects that can last up to 7 hours. And for people who have liver problems, or who are taking oral contraceptives or other medications, caffeine’s effects can last even longer! It interferes with the body’s natural regulatory rhythms and chronic use of it can leave one perpetually out of balance — and regularly struggling for sleep.
My advice? Let it go — free your body and wallet from the grip of caffeine addiction — but take it slow. Start by weaning yourself off main offenders such as colas (even Diet Coke!), energy drinks and chocolate. And then start eliminating those not-so-obvious sources, like decaf coffee, some herbal teas, some sodas (root beer, Mountain Dew, Sunkist Orange) and even some OTC medications such as Anacin and Excedrin.
From there, it’s on to the big one — coffee. The best way to kick coffee is to taper off in small increments so as not to trigger the junkie-like withdrawal symptoms (especially the headaches), that so many people struggle with. The mission is to slowly dial down your caffeine consumption so your body can acclimate over time.
Here’s a painless strategy to try when you’re finally ready to unhook from the caffeine drip:
- Day 1: Today, have your usual amount of coffee.
- Day 2 – Day 5: Blend your coffee 50%-50% with decaf (preferably certified organic). Drink that for three days.
- Day 6: Have 25% regular coffee, 75% decaf for one day.
- Day 7: Start drinking pure decaf.
Care to take it a step further? Then try this idea one patient came up with to help break his $80 a week Starbucks habit:
First, he followed my 1-week decaffeinating plan outlined above.
Next, after he’d been weaned off of the caffeine, he added two more weeks to his program to kick coffee altogether.
For Week 2, he continued on pure organic decaf.
On Week 3, he began blending his decaf with a roasted grain beverage called Kaffree Roma, starting with a 50%-50% blend, then down to 25% decaf +75% Roma and going then to all Roma on Day 7 of the 3rd week.
Eventually, he dropped the Roma as well and no longer “needs” coffee, decaf or coffee substitutes
Kicking the caffeine habit can be incredibly difficult, but well worth your while. Your sleep will be longer and of higher quality, and your overall health will improve. For those of you looking to cleanse more toxins from your body, check out our posts on the top 5 reasons your body loves a detox and how to do a detox.