A couple of weeks ago, I decided to experiment by giving up coffee for a week. Though the ensuing article was entertaining (and gave me the opportunity to use plenty of Gilmore Girls GIFs), the experience was horrible. I had a caffeine withdrawal headache that lasted the entire week.

If you find yourself in the unfortunate predicament of being without coffee and suffering a painful headache, here are all the remedies I tried (and which ones actually helped). To make it even easier, I ranked how well these methods worked on a scale of one to five.

Pain Relievers

Effectiveness: 0-1

On the first day of my caffeine withdrawal-induced headache, I popped an extra-strength Advil. It did absolutely nothing for me.

I continued to take painkillers almost every day that I had a headache. It would occasionally make them slightly less severe, but for the most part it didn't do anything.

#SpoonTip: I usually take ibuprofen for pain, but acetaminophen works better for some people — use whichever one you prefer.


Effectiveness: 2-3

Every time I complained to a friend about my lack of caffeine, they'd look at me sympathetically and say, "Drink lots of water!" I finally listened to their advice (and scientific evidence) and found that once I started drinking more water, the headaches were way less severe.


Effectiveness: 4-5

The only times my head didn't hurt were when I was sleeping and shortly after waking up. No caffeine meant that I'd pass out easily and sleep through the night, which also meant waking up with no headache. Of course, the headache would start all over again a few hours later when I didn't drink my morning coffee.

I'm not much of a napper, but I'm pretty confident that if you snuck in a nap, it would temporarily cure the headache.

Pressure Points

Effectiveness: 2-3

Another way to help remedy any kind of headache is to massage places on the body known as pressure points. I tried a few of them, and while they didn't entirely cure my headache, they definitely provided some temporary relief.

Ice and Water

Effectiveness: 2-3

I actually read about this odd remedy a few years back and had forgotten about it until now. You're supposed to put your feet in cold water and put an ice pack on the back of your neck, keeping your head down. It sounds super bizarre, and there isn't a whole lot of science behind it, but it worked pretty well.


Effectiveness: 5

Ultimately, the only thing that actually kicked my caffeine withdrawal headache immediately and permanently was caffeine. If you're quitting for good, this option doesn't apply to you. If you're trying to lower your intake, your body will get used to the new dose of caffeine eventually. If you just haven't had a hit of caffeine yet, what are you waiting for?

That said, some of these other strategies were somewhat effective, and would probably be more effective for people who are less addicted to caffeine than I am.