When Does Coffee Withdrawal Start? (Facts to Know)

A woman holding a cup of coffee

Your regular cup of joe is indeed a magical fix that can positively boost your health. Not only, coffee is the most loved caffeinated beverage, but also a good source of natural antioxidants.

For most healthy adults, a few cups of coffee in a day can give boosting productivity. Evidence and studies also claim that coffee aids in better physical performance and endurance.

However, coffee contains the stimulant, caffeine. This psychoactive drug can create a sense of dependence on the drink when consumed on regular basis. This is why your body starts to desire more and more cups of coffee once you add it to your regular meals.

If you want to cut out the caffeine, you will find it a bit difficult since your body experiences unpleasant symptoms of caffeine withdrawal.

Short answer: The symptoms of coffee withdrawal are those of caffeine withdrawal. Coffee itself doesn’t have any withdrawal symptoms but caffeine being a stimulant, does have. After curbing your consumption, the symptoms may hit your body within 12 to 24 hours of the last cup consumed.

So is stepping away from coffee the best solution? For an in-depth analysis go through the following sections and enjoy your reading!

What are the Symptoms of Caffeine Withdrawal?

a person passed out with a cup of coffee

The commonly recognized symptoms of caffeine withdrawal are:

  • Anxiety
  • Fatigue
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Headache
  • Depressed mood
  • Restlessness
  • Tremors
  • Irritability
  • Impaired focus

Coffee contains the stimulant caffeine that is considered to be a psychoactive substance. It is one of the most widely consumed stimulants.

The effects of caffeine might not be as potent as other addictive compounds like cocaine or nicotine. However, the stimulating effects of caffeine cause a mild source of dependency on the source.

This is why habitual drinkers tend to desire more and more cups of coffee gradually.

The stimulating effects of caffeine affect the neural activity in the brain and when you stop taking the drink abruptly, the nervous system starts craving for the caffeine dose.

In many cases, caffeine withdrawal requires medical diagnosis and the symptoms are prominent among regular coffee consumers.

Caffeine withdrawal has some common signs that can show the intensity your body is craving for it.

Though the symptoms might be displeasing for some, it’s temporary and you can manage the symptoms through certain preventive steps.

What Does Caffeine Withdrawal Feel like?

The after-effects of caffeine withdrawal feel foggy. As mentioned earlier, the common symptoms of caffeine withdrawal are often accompanied by physical fatigue.

Headache is probably the most common thing you’ll experience during the phase. This will be accompanied by fatigue and restlessness. The overall excitement of the nervous system makes you want to grab another cup of joe.

The symptoms may vary among individuals but most of these add up to the same mood-altering effects. During this phase, you may also perform mental tasks poorly as your performance is heavily affected.

This is why you shouldn’t quit cold turkey abruptly. Try to curb the consumption slowly and if needed, opt for healthier alternatives.

How Long Does It Take For A Caffeine Addiction To Start?

Well, there isn’t an exact day that can turn your love for coffee into an addiction. Generally, prolonged consumption of the drink in significant doses causes to create the sensation of dependency.

Little doses are less profound in creating the addiction. For high doses, continuous consumption for about a week or more can create signs of dependency.

But is there a way to find whether you’re addicted or not? That’s easy. The time when you can’t perform your regular activities uniformly without sipping on your cup, that’s when you can understand that you have acquired a physical dependence on the drink.

People metabolize caffeine differently so it’s quite hard to point out the exact time needed to create the dependency.

In some cases, the addiction is more related to mental desire rather than physical need. Many might perceive the idea that only the regular caffeinated boost can allow them to perform better and this is why they start to ingest more cups for better productivity.

How Much Caffeine Will Cause A Withdrawal?

a hand holding a tiny cup of coffee

Withdrawal can occur when you abstain from your daily caffeinated dose which can be as low as 100 milligrams and beyond the recommended healthy quantity. The likelihood of the severity will become more intense for higher amounts of caffeine.

There isn’t any fixed quantity that causes withdrawal symptoms. The more caffeine you use on regular basis, the more adverse will be the withdrawal effects.

According to the US Food and Drug Administration, a healthy individual can have 400 milligrams of caffeine a day. This isn’t the limit that one should reach. This study on The effect of daily caffeine use on cerebral blood flow showed that a dose of just 250 milligrams can affect cardiovascular functionality by about 27%.

Moreover, people who consume high doses like 250 milligrams or more tend to have more adenosine receptors. This makes the body hard to flush out the excess chemicals, disrupting sleep and regular activities.

Also, the withdrawal effect might be proportional to the daily caffeine use. If you’re dosing on larger quantities of coffee, then it’s quite normal to hit harder when you’re not getting any of your favorite caffeinated drinks.

In this case, only a single or two cups of coffee can be enough to produce withdrawal symptoms after tapering the consumption. I wrote an article on a similar topic to this and you can read it here if you are interested.

How Much Caffeine Will You Need to Avoid Withdrawals?

I think 50-100 milligrams of caffeine is enough for getting the desired boost. People who lack caffeine tolerance, however, should replace the drink with other healthier substitutes.

A healthy dose differs among individuals. Generally, people can belong to either of the three categories which are:

  • Hypersensitive
  • Normal sensitivity
  • Hyposensitive

Hypersensitive people are very much receptive to the caffeine content. Their bodies take twice as much time as normal people to metabolize the caffeine. So the aftereffects can be more potent for them even for smaller doses.

Different coffee varieties have different caffeine quantities. The caffeine content depends on the roasting style, quality of beans, brewing method, additives, and of course on the variety you’re choosing.

Let’s have a look over the caffeine quantity of some popular coffee varieties:

Coffee VarietyServing SizeCaffeine Content (on average)
Regular Brewed Coffee8 oz.95 milligrams
Brewed Decaf Coffee8 oz.2 milligrams
Americano8 oz.77 milligrams
Mocha8 oz.102 milligrams
Cold Brew Espresso 1.7 oz.85 milligrams
Flat White from Starbuck8 oz. 130 milligrams
Latte from Dunkin’ Donuts14 oz.166 milligrams
The caffeine content in various coffee varieties

So you see, different coffee types contain different caffeine quantities. Not all people drink the same one. Even if the serving size might be similar among the varieties, it’s quite obvious that the drinks will affect differently depending on their nutritional proportion of various components.

How Long Does It Take To Show The Symptoms Of Caffeine Withdrawal?

A man hiding face for headache.
Headache can be the first sign of caffeine withdrawal.

If you’re unable to perform without the regular cup of joe, then you are addicted to caffeine. When you abruptly try to cut your consumption, the signs of caffeine withdrawal may hit you within the first 12-24 hours of the last cup drunk.

The withdrawal symptoms like dizziness, headache, anxiety, insomnia, depressed mood, etc usually start between this period. The peak time for showing the symptoms is usually between 20 to 51 hours. Depending upon the metabolism of the body, the withdrawal can show similar signs even after a week.

Generally, this isn’t something dangerous but the side effects are quite displeasing. To cut off the signs, people tend to indulge in regular consumption that makes the situation more vulnerable.

Is Caffeine Withdrawal a Disorder?

Caffeine-induced anxiety disorder is a common withdrawal symptom that is prominent in people already having anxiety issues. This aftermath of caffeine intoxication is often considered as a DSM-5  according to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th ed.

Many reviews and studies have claimed the association of caffeine in contributing to certain disorders and in many cases, the curbing of the content may exhibit disruption in people’s systematic functioning.

A study on a similar topic analyzed the effects of caffeine on the body and revealed that the physical symptoms encountered as a withdrawal sign are enough to classify it as a psychiatric disorder.

Large doses of caffeine build an enhanced tolerance and addiction in most people. When the body doesn’t get the caffeine dose all of a sudden, the already bad anxiety condition or depression prevailing can make the situation more vulnerable. This sort of patients needs immediate clinical attention.

In many cases, individuals fail to recognize that their favorite cup of coffee can contribute both to their physical fatigue and mental disorder when drank without proper control.

However, you don’t need to worry immediately. You need to understand that people’s sensitivity to caffeine varies and so do the consequences. To portray the situation in a general view, just remember that the effects of caffeine withdrawal are real. Tapering consumption abruptly can disrupt the regular flow of activities.

How to Cure Caffeine Withdrawal Symptoms?

Symptoms of caffeine withdrawal generally go away within 2 to 9 days. While most of these symptoms are short-lived, they can make one uncomfortable.

Here are some tips that may help you in reducing the intensity of withdrawal symptoms and curb the side effects:

  1. Limit your caffeine consumption gradually. Don’t turn cold turkey and reduce it slowly from 4 cups to 2 cups and then 1 cup.
  2. Keep yourself hydrated and drink enough water after meals. Apart from water, you can drink smoothies, fresh juices, and even mild teas.
  3. Get an adequate amount of sleep and try to maintain a healthy biological clock.
  4. Reduce caffeinated snacks or beverages in your meals. Even chocolates, sodas, bars, etc may contain a good amount of caffeine.
  5. Switch to decaf coffee if needed.
  6. Go for morning walks to boost energy naturally.

Overall, maintain a nutrient-dense diet and stress reduction technique in your daily lifestyle. Be sure of what you’re putting inside the body and don’t overdo yourself.

Are There Any Benefits of Quitting Coffee?

Now the question that may trouble you is whether you should give up your coffee or not.

Honestly speaking you don’t need to give up the whole drink just in fear of the withdrawal symptoms. Consider taking a moderate intake of caffeine in a day. Generally, 1-2 cups of coffee won’t have any troubling issues on your health.

Coffee provides several health benefits and is a natural source of antioxidants. In many reviews, science has approved up to 4 cups of coffee in a day.

However, how much coffee you should drink depends on your body. If you’re sensitive to caffeine consider cutting back.

Moreover, pregnant women, patients with arrhythmia and anxiety disorder, insomniacs, and elderly people must consider their health first before getting the caffeine fix.

Simply put, don’t quit coffee completely and limit your intake to at best 2 cups. If you still want something energetic, go for milder teas such as herbal tea or green tea.

In Conclusion

Coffee is addictive and with time people develop a tolerance for the caffeine content in it. This means your body gradually builds a more improved tolerance for the stimulant and adjusts with the content.

You might find this addiction or dependency on coffee quite alluring since it helps you in getting the desired effects of alertness and productivity.

Technically it’s not an addiction since it doesn’t drive you insane like illegal stimulants. However, your body starts to crave for it more once you stop taking it.

Generally, you get the withdrawal symptoms within the next 12 hours of quitting caffeine completely. To successfully reduce the effects of the withdrawal, curb the intake slowly.

Replace your regular coffee with something healthier and with less caffeine. Drink plenty of water to meet the fluid’s need and reduce caffeine consumption over the period of two or more weeks.

Other Articles

Matt Marshall

As I learn more and more about coffee and coffee products I want to share all my learnings with you here on this website. I hope you find my articles useful and entertaining to read.

Recent Posts