31 July 2011

Caffeine Withdrawal, Day Two

I'm actually feeling like a bit of a fraud at the moment. It's... let's see... 50 hours since I last had coffee, so that's genuine enough. What's odd is that the promised withdrawal symptoms -- and in particular the violent chiselling headaches which I remember from previous attempts -- have yet to materialise.

I had some milder headachiness yesterday, which was easily addressed with paracetomol. I haven't needed to take any today. I'm also tired, though not nearly as much as I'd expected, and have exploded with unjustified rage at my beloved wife three times for no reason that would have made sense to anyone with any understanding of logic. My thinking feels muzzy and unfocussed, but no more so than on a warm day after a heavy lunch, say. I've even been able to get a small amount of writing today, with the help of fruit teas and a strategically-timed nap.

My aforementioned beloved wife has two mutually contradictory hypotheses about this. Either: a) I've been drinking so much coffee that my body has stored up caffeine reserves which it's still working its way through (unlikely on biological grounds), or b) I've been drinking so much coffee that my body has stopped experiencing it as a stimulant and has merely been experiencing it as a toxin (also unlikely, though possibly slightly less so).

What seems most probable to me is that the headaches are still to come, but are awaiting the most effective moment to strike -- probably as soon as I get to work tomorrow morning. In my impaired mental state I feel like a dinosaur waiting for an asteroid.


  1. I gave up coffee for three months two years ago after some quite severe health problems, and since starting up again I've only drunk a maximum four cups a day (usually three), down from my previous twenty.
    The single biggest piece of advice I can give you is to drink cocoa. Not hot chocolate, but strong, bitter cocoa. The reason is that it sort of looks a bit coffee-ish, being a brown liquid, it's roughly coffee-temperature, and if you make it *very* strong it's also about as bitter as coffee, and so it works *very* effectively as a substitute, while not being the evil that is decaf.
    Yes, it does have a very small amount of caffeine in it, but practically homeopathic amounts compared to coffee.
    Melatonin tablets can help you get through any sleep problems, and will also help with the headaches, but they're difficult to get hold of at short notice.

  2. NotInventedHere9:23 am

    Should you require melatonin, give me a shout.

  3. NotInventedHere9:30 am

    My other half seems to experience caffeine as a relaxant - he is more likely to drift off to sleep after a cup of coffee than he is to start bouncing around. On the other hand, this is the man who can single handedly down 2 bottles of port, and still stand steadily on his feet and appear entirely sober, if unexpectedly jolly, for several hours afterwards. Probably not a good model for the general population...

  4. Notinventedhere - About 10% of the population (people with ADD, Asperger's etc) have that happen to them - amphetamine-type stimulants such as caffeine have a paradoxical effect on them, because the ability they have to focus the mind helps their mind stop racing enough that they can get to sleep. It's why Ritalin (an amphetamine) is prescribed for those with ADD.

  5. NotInventedHere7:52 am

    Fascinating - thank you!


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