As always, please do your own research and check my facts. If you have any unusual medical conditions or issues with substance abuse, consult a doctor or therapist. But the below is a method I've used soundly to be able to easily cycle off caffeine when I want to.
Why do so? Well, caffeine is tolerance building and chemically addictive. It starts as a large boon and a performance enhancer, but eventually you need to consume caffeine just to get to normal. It can be disruptive to sleep.
You might function better on caffeine or off caffeine as a general pattern, but either way -- you'll benefit from occasionally cycling off it for a month or two to reset your tolerance level and re-experience life without the cycles of caffeine high and withdrawal, just to double-check and make sure caffeine is serving your current lifestyle well.
At the same time, quitting cold turkey is a pretty brutal strategy for most people if you're a heavy user. I'm busy all year round, which presented me with a conundrum -- if I quit caffeine cold, I take a huge performance hit with headaches and sleepiness. Very bad.
With research and experimentation, I came to a method that works extremely reliably. I've never failed to cycle off caffeine using the below method -- sometimes it goes a little faster, sometimes it takes a little longer, but with patience, it simply works. The below is excerpted from a letter to a friend of mine who is performance oriented, and was inquiring about how to do better with managing caffeine and sugar. Here's my notes to him --
Thought I'd share my method for conquering caffeine. It works 100%.
It goes like this:
1. Buy 50mg or 100mg caffeine pills from the pharmacy. This doesn't require a prescription in most places. They're cheap (between 5 cents and 15 cents USD per 100mg).
2. A normal size coffee has ~100 mg of caffeine. If you slam a lot of caffeine, you might be as high as 800 to 1200 mg of caffeine per day.
3. What you'll do instead is start taking 100mg doses of caffeine spread throughout the day, especially targeting your caffeine to largely preserve the desired usage/effect in the short term. If you need to do creative work, then time your caffeine for the most awake parts of your day ("reinforcing caffeine usage" is the term), which will lead to big peaks and valleys in energy and alertness. If you need steadyness, time the caffeine to when your energy is waning to smooth things out ("antagonistic caffeine usage"). Regardless, the best time for caffeine, if you use, is pre-workout -- it'll give you slightly higher athletic performance, and some of the jitteryness is eliminated with post-workout-chemicals/mood.
4. You might want to use the app "CaffeineZone Lite" -- not perfect, but it tracks the half-life of caffeine in your body and is useful for learning/planning when to take caffeine. Mix it with some basic journaling about your mood level (or even mix it with T2MoodTracker, another free app) to get a handle and start using the stuff smarter.
5. When quitting, start caffeine pills at 70% to 80% of the caffeine you take on a regular day in liquid form (coffee, tea, etc -- google "caffeine in xx" if you're not sure; EX "caffeine in a shot of espresso" -- Google helpfully answers 64 mg). Completely eliminate coffee, tea, energy drinks -- no liquid caffeine at all. I wouldn't worry about trace caffeine in chocolate, etc, too much unless you're eating a lot of it.
6. Ramp down 50mg to 100mg lower every couple weeks. No need to hurry. Take your time. If you start getting really tired or worn out suddenly, you might have dropped too fast and go back up 50mg or 100mg per day for a while.
7. Eventually you'll be at 100mg per day or less.
8. Shift that caffeine usage gradually to later in the day (not when you wake up).
9. Then, at your leisure, quit.
10. You should replace your old "caffeine rituals" with other things to drink, do, etc. I recommend trying mint, rooibos, chamomile, lavender and chrysanthemum tea. Try and see which you like. I actually carry mint tea teabags in my computer case, which is almost always with me (note: make sure to get just mint tea, not black tea mixed with mint, obviously). At any restaurant or someone's home that doesn't have what I want, I can just grab a glass of hot water, drop in a mint tea teabag and I'm good to go.
Caffeine has performance advantages. Sometimes I use it. But I try not to become a habituated user any more; if I find myself doing it daily, I quit for a while. This also means you actually reclaim caffeine as a legitimate performance enhancer, instead of a "need it to feel normal" addiction. Let me know if you try it and how it goes.
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