7 Things That Might Happen If You Stop Drinking Coffee

According to a 2020 report by the National Coffee Association (a real thing, we checked), 62 percent of Americans drink coffee every day, with the average American consuming three or more cups a day. For many of us, coffee has become such an important part of our lives and so ingrained in our culture (“But first, coffee!”), that it’s hard to imagine a day without it. Still, you might want to reconsider how much bean juice (sorry, it’s true) you’re drinking once you read some of the potential benefits of giving up your beloved blonde roast, including decreased anxiety, weight loss and even a happier bank account.

How to Stay Awake Without Caffeine

1. You Might Experience Withdrawal Symptoms

Though there are quite a few benefits to quitting or cutting back on caffeine, devoted coffee drinkers should expect some withdrawal symptoms after going cold turkey. These symptoms can include headaches, fatigue or irritability and should only last one to three days. In our personal experience, headaches are often the primary symptom, but why? According to a Wake Forest University study, drinking caffeine causes blood vessels to restrict, which can slow blood flow by as much as 27 percent. When you stop drinking caffeine, those blood vessels are allowed to go back to their regular size, which might cause headaches.

2. You Might Feel Less Anxious

Calling all naturally anxious people: Your daily coffee might be worsening your symptoms. According to a study by researchers at Cardiff University’s Center for Occupational and Health Psychology, it can take as little as 150 milligrams of caffeine (roughly a 16-ounce cup) to bring on symptoms of anxiety, from an elevated heart rate to a sense of panic. Now, we’re not saying that people with diagnosed anxiety disorders who are regular coffee drinkers will be cured by switching to decaf, but every little bit counts in the quest to chill out.

3. Your Hormones Might Even Out

Especially if you’re drinking your coffee first thing in the morning. “There are a few reasons why coffee isn’t great first thing in the morning, especially for women.” says Carlyn Rosenblum, MS, RD. “First, it increases cortisol, which can negatively impact ovulation, weight and hormonal balance.” Drinking caffeine first thing in the morning, when cortisol is high, blunts the hormone’s production and shifts the timing of the cycle, Rosenblum explains.

4. You Might Feel Less Tired

We know, we know: One of the main points of drinking coffee is to feel more alert and awake. As it turns out, though, an excess of caffeine can actually have the opposite effect. Says Vanessa Rissetto, MS, RD, CDN and co-founder of Culina Health, “If you're drinking caffeine in excess of three cups or more a day, it can make you go to the bathroom more, causing dehydration which can make you feel dizzy and sleepy.”

5. You Might Lose Weight

Sure, a plain cup of black coffee clocks in at just five calories (and zero fat), but many folks end up adding so many sugary syrups and creamers that they end up more closely resembling a milkshake than a morning pick-me-up. (For reference, a Grande Pumpkin Spice Latte with 2 percent milk from Starbucks has 390 calories, 14 grams of fat and 50 grams of sugar.) It’s important to note that on the flip side, if you are used to drinking coffee with some sugary additives and all of a sudden you stop, you might find yourself reaching for more sugary foods throughout the day, which could, of course, lead to weight gain.

6. You Might Save Money

If you’re one of those people who’s hopelessly devoted to their Keurig or Nespresso and wouldn’t dare buy a drink from a coffeeshop, chain or otherwise, keep reading. If you do find yourself dropping cash on your coffee habit, you’ll be pleasantly surprised once those charges slow down or stop altogether. In fact, here’s a handy coffee calculator so you can determine just how much your daily flat white is setting you back.

7. You Might Sleep Better

The more coffee, the more insomnia. It’s as simple as that. (That said, even if you don’t give up the java, sticking firmly to a 2 p.m. caffeine cut-off can significantly help the quality of your sleep.) According Michelle Worley, a registered nurse and Director of Clinical Operations at Aeroflow Healthcare, “Since many people consume caffeine for the jolt of energy it provides, which is made possible by blocking the brain’s sleep-inducing chemicals, it should come as no surprise that it can make it more difficult for people to sleep. For the best possible chance at a good night’s sleep, caffeine drinkers should stop consuming caffeine at least seven hours before they plan to go to sleep.”

How to Get a Better Night’s Sleep, According to a Nutritionist

sarah stiefvater
Sarah Stiefvater

Wellness Director

Sarah Stiefvater is PureWow's Wellness Director. She's been at PureWow for ten years, and in that time has written and edited stories across all categories, but currently focuses...
read full bio