How to Wean Yourself Off Caffeine

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Anyone who has ever tried to quit drinking coffee or caffeinated tea or soda knows about the headaches and fatigue that can come if you try to quit abruptly. But backing off gradually can have the opposite effect, leaving you feeling stronger and even more alert.

Things You'll Need

  • A caffeine journal - to honestly assess your starting point.
  • A decaffeinated substitute for the caffeine you're giving up.
  • Patience
  • Spend a week writing down all sources and amounts of caffeine you consume. Don't forget chocolate.

  • Restructure your current caffeine intake into predictable intervals, without reducing the amount of caffeine consumed in a day.

  • Strategically reduce the about of caffeine at each interval. For three days, have 75% of your normal caffeine beverage. Replace the other 25% with a decaffeinated alternative -- water if possible. If chocolate is part of your ritual replace with non-chocolate candy or trade a regular size candy bar for a "fun-sized" -- or a higher quality truffle.

    If you've been drinking coffee, black tea usually has about 3/4 the amount of caffeine. If you like tea, an even swap would be good at this point.

    *Note decaf coffee/black or green tea all still contain caffeine. These substitutes are fine at this stage, but ultimately you'll want to give those up too.

  • Once the three days have passed, reduce to 50% caffeine. (on the tea method this would mean switching from black to green tea.) Do this for a day or two.

  • Give up all caffeine for 1 day, then consume at step 4 levels. Repeat giving up for 2 days, then 4 days. By now you should be able to stay off caffeine with little or no withdrawal symptoms.

Tips & Warnings

  • Don't you feel better?
  • Be sure to get plenty of sleep and exercise. This will help keep your energy up and reduce the risk of a relapse.
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