Caffeinated drinks like coffee, tea, or an energy drink are popular not just because of their flavor. Caffeine is a stimulant drug which increases focus and attention. But, too much can have the opposite effect - causing you to feel jittery or anxious. And, even when you stop drinking it mid-afternoon, it can still affect your nightly sleep.
After posting my video about optimal dosing of caffeine, I got a lot of questions from people who want to cut back on caffeine. They were drinking more than this optimal dose and were having sleep problems, or maybe because they’re pregnant. If that’s you, I’ve got some suggestions!
Small amounts of caffeine can help increase focus and attention. But larger amounts…especially in people that are sensitive to its effects…can make you feel jittery, restless, nervous. And, even lead to sleeplessness.
But, if you want to cut back on caffeine, don’t rush it.
Depending on how much caffeine you drink on a daily basis you can actually suffer from withdrawal symptoms if you stop too quickly; these can include headaches, insomnia and irritability. Instead you may want to cut back slowly rather than stopping all at once.
Lower Caffeine Versions
Ok, so how much caffeine is in the lower-caf versions of your favorite beverages?
Manufacturers of caffeinated sodas have added the caffeine to the bubbly. So, when a soda is labeled “caffeine free”, it is free. Same thing with flavored carbonated waters (such as La Croix).
Coffee and tea (including black, green, oolong, white teas) naturally have caffeine so a process is used to take out the caffeine. To quality for “decaf”, it must have at least 97% of its caffeine removed. So you end up with a beverage containing 5-10mg of caffeine per cup (depending on the size of the mug).
Want coffee with even less caffeine? Look for “Swiss water process” on the label. While you may have to shop at Whole Foods or search online to find it, this process removes about 99.9% of the caffeine.
What about Herbal Teas?
Do you like tea? You may want to switch to herbal teas. These teas are made from the roots, berries, flowers, seeds, and leaves of a variety of plants not from actual tea plant leaves. True herbal teas do not contain caffeine.
These teas can also be used as medicinal remedies. For example:
- Chamomile tea may have a calming effect while promoting sleep and reducing anxiety.
- Ginger tea, made from the ginger root, may help reduce symptoms of an upset stomach/nausea.
- Peppermint tea is made from the leaves of the peppermint plant. Peppermint tea may help ease an upset stomach and may help break up congestion in the chest or nasal passages
While most herbal teas found in grocery stores are safe in moderation, check with your doctor before switching. For example, peppermint tea isn’t recommended if you have GERD or acid reflux. And, some other herbal teas are not recommended during the early months of pregnancy.