What if I told you there was a way to survive life without consuming any caffeine? Some may look at me as if I spoke in another language, others as if I had just cussed them out. But I am here as a living (somewhat), breathing (most times) testament that this feat can be accomplished…though, you will pay a price.
The experiment seemed simple at first: no caffeine for three days and report upon your findings. As a former athlete, going days upon days without caffeine wasn’t out of the normal; in fact, in most cases it was encouraged. Coaches and nutritionists advised us that excess amounts of caffeine, such as what you would get in a Monster, Red Bull, Rockstar, etc., while they gave you a boost for a short time, were not beneficial to your health or your performance. So we did what we could to avoid it in season.
Out of season is another animal though. Balancing a heavier class load, early morning workouts and (for most of us) employment requirements, it’s understandable to hit up Starbucks or the café in Saylor-Ackermann to help get you through the day. So, having hung up my cleats way back in mid-November, I had become accustomed to the daily caffeine boost. And boy, did I suffer without it.
Looking back to the beginning of day one, I see that the problems originated from there. Deciding to start on a day that also included an 8 a.m. class and an eight hour work shift was probably not the smartest thing I could’ve done. But hey, hindsight is 20/20. As I got home from work and began to work on homework, I realized a headache was beginning to come on. I figured it was just a normal one and that getting some sleep would knock it out. I couldn’t have been more wrong.
The headache persisted when I woke up, and I began to realize that this beast was different from any other headache I had experienced before. The nice thing about day two was that I wasn’t forced to get up for an 8 a.m. class; rather, I got to be up even earlier so that I could be at work at 7 a.m. Yes, as you may start to realize, I really could’ve planned this whole thing out better; but like I said: hindsight. Time crept along slowly until I was able to make it back to my apartment. As soon as I hit the couch (yes, the couch; not even my bed), I was out cold. I had no motivation or energy to even turn on a random Netflix show, which as we all know, really isn’t that difficult. There was no way day three could be worse, right?
The last day. I told myself that all I had to do was push through 24 hours and I would be back to normal life. The headache still remained, so I turned to my last personal remedy: attempting to relieve it through working out, something that I had success with in the past. As with sleeping and giving it time to disappear, working out did nothing to lessen the pressure residing in my skull. It was then I realized that this headache had to be due to the absence of caffeine; I was suffering from withdrawal. I almost broke right then and there at 5:30 p.m. But with support from my friends I was able to distract myself long enough to finish the day.
As soon as I woke up the morning after the experiment had reached its expiration date, I ran to the library, partly because that’s where my 8 a.m. was located and I was late, and partly because the vending machine there sells Starbucks coffee energy drinks. And to be honest, it was probably the greatest-tasting drink I’ve had in my entire life.
I learned through this experiment that caffeine really can be addicting, and when you stop cold turkey, you can begin to experience symptoms of withdrawal. If you feel the need to challenge yourself, or prove to yourself that your will is stronger than your desires, then I would recommend this to you. I found it be a great way to learn about myself and learn how to push through struggles in a way that differed from pushing through struggles in athletics.