Lifestyle & Culture

How to Quit Caffeine and Not Fail Out of College

By Emily Payne • October 30, 2012 at 11:00 am


Like many college students, I like to think of myself as a coffee aficionado. I’m the classic highly caffeinated procrastinator–the I’ll-sleep-when-I’m-old kind of student. As fun as a starving, sleep-deprived, and stressed-out college life may be, this level of caffeine dependency can get pretty unhealthy. So, I’ve decided to give it up.

Now, I fully expect to fall back into my old habits. I have enough self-awareness to know that this can’t last. But I do take pride in knowing how to get rid of those withdrawal headaches and somehow stay awake for an entire lecture without the boost of caffeine. I’ve done it before. It isn’t easy, but with some determination and the right tricks it is entirely possible to quite caffeine. Here’s how to keep the energy up without that wonderful drug!

This woman gets up bright and early for a morning workout in New York City. | Photo courtesy of Jorge Royan via Wikimedia Commons

1. Work out, or at least get moving

Start off the day with a workout, or even a quick jog around the block. Do this consistently and you will have increased circulation to your heart and lungs, which will get your body running more efficiently and increase your energy for the rest of the day. Livestrong even suggests that the wonders of a quick workout can replace your morning coffee.

2. Drink tea

Some of you may be far too addicted to coffee to quit cold turkey. It’s okay, you’re not alone. Typically, tea has less caffeine than coffee. Wean yourself off by replacing your morning coffee with a morning tea. Although it depends on the tea, white tea will usually have the least amount of caffeine, while herbal teas are caffeine-free. Another plus: teas are filled with antioxidants. Studies suggest that tea boosts the immune system, lowers the risk of heart disease, lowers blood pressure, and aids weight loss.

3. Eat more, smaller meals

When I’m really going hard on the studying, I don’t have a single real meal. I eat snacks every couple hours. This way, there is a constant flow of energy. Also, eating a large meal may prevent you from getting hungry later, but it will actually cause you to become more tired. Think post-Thanksgiving exhaustion.

4. Stretch while you read

This is especially useful for all you english majors (or anyone with an absurd amount of reading to do). Sans coffee, I cannot go over five minutes before I fall asleep on a book. Try clearing an area, maybe even whipping out a yoga mat, and get stretching with the book out in front of you. It’ll get your blood flowing to increase energy levels. Stretching also releases stress – killing two birds with one stone!

True coffee aficionados will appreciate some good latte art. | Photo courtesy of Flickr Commons user Mortefot

5. Avoid sugary foods

That Snickers bar or pack of M&M’s from the vending machine is so tempting, especially at 1 a.m. in the middle a particularly difficult study session, but don’t do it! Have a pack of almonds, some peanut butter on crackers, or another high-protein snack ready. Our bodies break down carbohydrates and fats faster than proteins, giving the initial rush of energy and subsequent crash. Protein breaks down the slowest of all nutrients, resulting in energy for a long period of time.

6. Think about all of this

Although coffee does have its benefits, when you’re trying to kick the habit just focus on the cons. Think about the yellow teeth and bad breath. Think about that jittery feeling you get when you’ve had way too much. Coffee has been shown to increase anxiety, blood pressure, and cholesterol when consumed in excess. All of that acidity makes for quite an upset stomach. Also, on those particularly hectic days when you don’t have time to fuel the addiction, those withdrawal headaches are no fun.

7. Get Sick

Don’t actively seek out illness, of course, but if you have to be sick then why not use it as an excuse to kick the habit? When you already feel terrible and have to sleep all day, coffee is not necessary. You can easily go without it. Keep it up once you feel better, and you’ll be a proudly recovering caffeineaholic in no time.


Emily is The Quad's Managing Editor. Hailing from the smallest state, she loves the outdoors, photography, indie rock, biking, and all things Irish or organic. She has an addiction to running and can laugh about basically anything. Follow her @erpayne.



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