Here is the backstory of why I decided to quit caffeine: the sophomore slump of college was real, and I was drowning in it. I knew it was common for me to get anxious and overwhelmed. Yet, this time around the anxiety did not feel the same. My heart and thoughts would begin to go a million miles a minute, and I would lay awake at night in unfounded paranoia. I would wake my roommate up in tears and she would have to calm me down.

I started freaking out over how busy my friends were. I started to become nervously quiet and timid at social events. I began to doubt my friends and myself. I knew something was wrong as I used to be quirky and fun loving. Something had to change.

mocha, cappuccino, espresso, coffee
Jocelyn Hsu

I noticed one, anxiety filled day in November after grabbing a bagel and coffee before class that my heart was pounding and the stairs I had just walked killed my lungs. I had to sit down and chug water to feel normal enough to walk in to class. I was so confused as to why a flight of stairs made me out of breath as I am an avid runner. I then obsessed over the panic that was on my mind, but eventually thought was: "Is this from the coffee?"


After deciding to quit caffeine, I started watching what I was drinking. I switched to either tea or decaf coffee. I found that decaf coffee, when done well of course, was wonderful because I still had the taste of coffee without the evils of caffeine. Cinnamon tea became my best friend too, as it has that dark warmth that I loved in coffee.

Nicolette Hansen

At first, the headaches were terrible, but I kept reminding myself that Tylenol and peppermint oil can fix that. Also, a headache is a lot better than anxiety induced chest-tightening in class. The headaches would be dull and go on until I could get to Tylenol, but after a week, they subsided.


Once all the caffeine was out of my system, I found that I was starting to sleep slightly better. Still, I was having restless bouts of sleep, but I was able to finally fall asleep in a reasonable amount of time. I also found that waking up was easier and I did not have anymore afternoon crashes.

A hot cup of tea or a small hot chocolate was enough to wake me up. I found that chugging a glass of water first thing in the morning and then sipping on something warm and decaffeinated was all I needed. It was so nice to go to my first class and not be unnecessarily nervous after a coffee from the bagel shop.

dairy product, hot chocolate, whipped cream, mocha, espresso, sweet, chocolate, cappuccino, cream, coffee, milk
Julia Press

Because of all this, I became a lot more open to participating in class. My notes were better since my mind was not racing. I was not fidgeting or getting distracted as much. I was a lot more calm and present when meeting with friends for lunch. Deciding to quit caffeine quickly became the best thing I had ever done.

Life After Quitting

Though there were many other factors impacting my sophomore slump, choosing to quit caffeine helped in so many ways. It helped me sleep. It helped me breathe better. It helped me focus. It was not a cure all by any means, but it took the edge off, literally. In addition to caffeine, I took up yoga and sought out therapy. From being in a better head space without caffeine jitters, I realized it was time to start taking care of myself.

I have learned that it was, in fact, caffeine that pushed me over the edge on some of my bad days. I figured this out recently when I went to brunch with my family and ordered a vanilla coffee. I thought that since I had done all my homework in advance I could enjoy a warm cup of Joe. However, later that day I got shaky, my thoughts raced, and I was on edge for no reason.

sweet, cappuccino, cream, espresso, tea, milk, coffee
Rosalind Chang

The best advice I could give a stressed out college kid is to watch, limit, or end caffeine intake. I know that you might think you need it to power through a paper or finish a project. However, that lack of sleep and jitters can and will backfire. Instead of powering through, maybe hit the sack early and wake up early with the rest you need for a clear mind, or choose to switch to an herbal tea when you have an all nighter. I promise that if you quit caffeine, you will find yourself becoming happier, rested, and more focused.