How Giving Up Coffee Changed My Life

Last Updated Jun 22, 2010 9:10 AM EDT

A few weeks ago, Dave wrote that cutting out coffee could improve your productivity. As usual when I see a story like that, I snorted and went to refill my mug. Give up coffee? Here, take my good right arm, too.

Exactly 24 hours later, no joke, a doctor strongly advised me to give up coffee. I won't get into the reasons why (actually, I will, below), but suffice it to say, I did it. A few days on half-caf, then down to quarter-caf, and boom: I was off the sauce.

The results? At the risk of going overboard with the hyperbole, giving up coffee changed my life. Here's how:

Fewer trips to the bathroom I know it's icky, but let's just say this was my primary motivation. I felt like I was having to go way more often than a 41-year-old should -- especially at night. Now, post-coffee, I'm in there maybe 3-5 times per day, not 10-12. As for nighttime, I'm getting...

A lot more sleep Until recently, I was getting up 2, 3, sometimes 4 times a night. Now, if I get up at all, it's once. I'm better rested these last couple weeks than I've been in years. Seriously, years. Consequently, I have...

Way more energy Actually, I think what I have now is a normal amount of energy. What I had before was an almost constant feeling of sluggishness, punctuated by the occasional coffee buzz. Looking back, I think I was brain-dead -- okay, brain-impaired -- for at least half the day. It's a wonder I got any work done at all. (Quiet, Dave.) Now I hum along just fine, meaning...

No daytime comas You know that "afternoon crash" they're always talking about in those 5-Hour Energy commercials? Yep, I had those. I'd often shake 'em off by getting some exercise, but it bugged me that I was always feeling so crummy around that time. I don't anymore.

Fewer daytime headaches I knew full well I was addicted to caffeine, and that if I didn't get my morning infusion, a nasty headache would set in around 10 a.m. But you know what? I was getting mild headaches a lot of the time anyway, usually later in the morning -- probably right when the caffeine was wearing off. I haven't had headache one since I made the change.

Do I miss the java? Hell, yes! Will I go back to it? Never, ever. I might have a cup of decaf here or there, but I'm just as happy with tea (again, decaf). Ultimately, Dave's post was right: giving up coffee can improve your productivity (among other things).

Should you follow suit? That's your call, of course. Your mileage may, and almost certainly will, vary. I know people who drink coffee all day and well into the evening and have no problems whatsoever.

If you're one of them, or you're like me and you've managed to kick the habit, hit the comments. I'll meet you there for a virtual coffee klatch.

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    Rick Broida, a technology writer for more than 20 years, is the author of more than a dozen books. In addition to writing CNET's The Cheapskate blog, he contributes to CNET's iPhone Atlas.