Jane Green
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Coffee WIthdrawal

October 4th, 2017

Every now and then I decide to give up caffeine, but it never lasts very long. Mostly because I am so extraordinarily healthy (mostly), that caffeine seems like the least harmful of all my vices, and so after a couple of weeks of mint tea (which is never the same), I start to think that life is too short, and go back to drinking my morning coffee, vowing not to give it up again.

Recently, my husband and I embarked on a three-month cleanse. In the past two months since we started, my husband has lost 20lbs and feels twenty years younger. I have lost almost nothing and feel exactly the same, apart from one significant difference: I am sleeping again.

I have not slept properly for years. I fall asleep quickly, but am always wide awake sometime between two and four, and am usually awake for hours, if not the rest of the night. The worst thing of all is that once I am resigned to being awake, I then reach for my phone, charging quietly on my nightstand, after which time all bets are off. I never thought you could spend hours on Facebook. What do all these people DO, I had wondered, hearing friends complain that they were wasting hours a day scrolling through their news feeds, until my middle-of-the-night sessions when I have found myself scrolling, sometimes until daybreak.

The cleanse we are on involves giving up all the usual things; essentially, anything delicious that makes life worthwhile. Sugar, carbs, dairy, legumes, alcohol, and caffeine. Some of it has been very easy for me. I haven’t really eaten a lot of dairy for years, so that hasn’t been a problem. Alcohol triggers my migraines, so I don’t drink. I thought sugar would be a hard one, but after a couple of weeks, I stopped thinking about it.

The one I was really going to miss, was caffeine, and because I decided to commit to this completely, I knew I had to stick to it. Along with the caffeine, I had decided to leave my iphone downstairs when I went up to bed. I wanted to get into bed and read, without having to put the book down every few minutes to check if something momentous had happened on social media since I last looked. I wanted to see what happens if I woke up at 2am, and didn’t automatically reach for my phone. I wanted to see if Beloved and I talked more, if neither of us were buried in our screens.

At this point, I have to say I am not someone who drinks a lot of coffee. Two cups perhaps, always in the morning, before 11am. I did not think for a second that it would affect my sleep. I do love a cup of tea, but only in winter, or I have a case of the blues. Not for a second did I believe giving up caffeine would affect my sleep.

How wrong I was. Once I get into bed, I have barely been able to read, because within three pages I am so sleepy, I have to switch off the light and close my eyes, after which point, I sleep like a baby. I still wake up at 2am, but now I am fast asleep again within minutes of getting back from the bathroom, with no phone to distract me and wake me up. When I awaken it is daylight, and rather than being 5am, it is usually 7am, and sometimes later. And Beloved and I talk! Yes! We actually talk!

I still miss my morning coffee. This cleanse is over in a couple of weeks, and there is much that I plan to continue. My life is much easier without sugar, and I feel better without flour. I would love to re-introduce coffee as my only sin, but I’m sleeping too well to even consider it, so shall spend this time trying very hard to develop a passion for mint tea.