Caffeine use may be just the thing you need to get through your day, but it can also have significant adverse consequences and disrupt your sleep. The use of caffeine may cause short-term problem. Moreover, if you have used it chronically, an abrupt discontinuation may cause caffeine withdrawal symptoms.
Short-Term Consequences of Caffeine Use
Caffeine is a great way to improve your concentration and performance, especially if you are suffering from excessive daytime sleepiness. However, some individuals are susceptible to adverse effects. These effects are related to its action as a stimulant. These short-term consequences may include:
- Anxiety; nervousness
- Panic attacks
- Increased urination
Caffeine Addiction and Caffeine Withdrawal
Though you may consider yourself a 'caffeine addict,' it is not certain that individuals can abuse caffeine in the same way that may occur with addiction to other drugs. What is clear is that you can suffer through withdrawal symptoms when you abruptly stop caffeine intake after long-term use.
After stopping caffeine use, some people may experience flu-like symptoms, nausea, or even muscle pain. The more common symptoms that may occur with caffeine withdrawal include:
- Decreased energy
- Decreased alertness
- Difficulty concentrating or thinking
- Depressed mood
Minimal Use May Predispose to Caffeine Withdrawal
If you consume a large amount of caffeine, your withdrawal symptoms may be significantly worse. However, even stopping a daily cup of coffee (or as little as 100 mg of caffeine per day) may be enough to incite withdrawal.
You don’t have to be a long-term user to be at risk. Only three days of chronic caffeine use may be long enough to set you up for withdrawal.
Caffeine withdrawal symptoms typically will begin 12 to 14 hours after stopping your caffeine intake. They will typically peak after one or two days, but the symptoms may persist for up to nine days.
The fortunate thing is that only 50% of people will experience caffeine withdrawal symptoms. This seems to be dependent on genetic factors, according to studies of twins. Any of these symptoms can be rapidly reversed with the resumption of caffeine intake.
Griffiths, RR. Principles of Addiction Medicine. 2003; 193.
Juliano, LM et al. "A critical review of caffeine withdrawal: empirical validation of symptoms and signs, incidence, severity, and associated features." Psychopharmacology. 2004; 176:1.
Nehlig, A. "Are we dependent upon coffee and caffeine? A review on human and animal data." Neurosci Biobehav Rev. 1999; 23:563.
Ogawa, N et al. "Clinical importance of caffeine dependence and abuse." Psychiatry Clin Neurosci. 2007; 61:263.
Satel, S. "Is caffeine addictive? A review of the literature." Am J Drug Alcohol Abuse. 2006; 32:493.