It started with a challenge. My friend suggested, “Why don’t you go a week without caffeine?”

Unspoken part: I bet you can’t.

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I had something to prove.

Now, I’m four days into my caffeine-free week and it’s quite possible I will hit that friend if I see him. Unspoken part: Watch out.

Generally speaking, I don’t think I overconsume caffeine. My normal routine is one cup of coffee in the morning, no more, no less. Sometimes I’ll add an extra shot of espresso. Sometimes I’ll swap out my coffee for an energy drink. Always, I will have a little kick of caffeine in the morning to get me out of bed and start my day off right.

This habit started during my senior year of college, when I needed a way to stay up and get things done. It has stuck with me over the last few years, to where I now completely rely on that cup of coffee to get me through the day.

While some people love their indulgent morning coffee and treat it like a luxury, I treat it like fuel. I’m like a car. Getting gasoline is a necessary part of driving, but it’s kind of a pain to constantly fuel up.

And it can be expensive! I like making my own coffee; I love getting iced coffee from one of our local coffee shops. But while I enjoy supporting small businesses, spending $7 on a cup of coffee can really add up.

I figured my piggybank would thank me for my caffeine-free week, and probably my body would, too. I wanted to break my reliance on caffeine and give my body a chance to reset and readjust. I heard, too, that taking a break from caffeine can make coffee taste twice as strong when you decide to drink it again. I figured, what’s one week? That’s easy. It will be worth it.

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In other words, I took away the fuel for my car and expected it to run.

Unsurprisingly, this did not go as smoothly as I had hoped. I quickly learned just how big of a difference that cup of coffee or energy drink made. The first few days, I stumbled through, yawning and cursing myself for ever starting the caffeine habit to begin with.

By day three, I was proud of my resistance so far. I was cocky. This is where I made my mistake. I figured, what’s one cup? What’s half a cup? That’s nothing.

Yes, reader, I’m sad to admit it but here’s the truth: I cheated.

I couldn’t help it! I was visiting my grandparents, and we always share a cup of coffee together. My grandma handed me my favorite mug as soon as I walked through the door. Was I supposed to say no? I simply couldn’t.

For what it’s worth, I stuck to half a cup of medium roast coffee, so it wasn’t very strong. But even then, I could feel the kick of the caffeine settling in. The rest of the day was spent in a productive haze, moving from one project to the next and knocking them out. I yawned no more.

Is that the result of the caffeine? Is that the secret to my productivity? There’s a real chance that I’m not actually productive of my own accord, but because of the coffee I slurp down every morning.

This is a bittersweet realization. On the one hand, I now know the secret, and it turns out my productivity is store-bought. So I’ll never run out! On the other hand, this means my caffeine reliance will likely continue. Apologies to my piggybank and my body, but here we are. It turns out this is a necessary expenditure.

Have you ever tried to break your caffeine habit? Do you have any tips? All advice is appreciated. I’m still committed to finishing out this week, but we’ll see how long that lasts. If I fall asleep at my desk, I’m sorry to the other staff members who will see me drooling on my keyboard. No pictures, please.

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