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I Stopped Drinking Coffee After 4 PM and Noticed These 5 Effects

July 15, 2023

Coffee has been a part of my drinking habits for as long as I can remember. Growing up in an Italian home, coffee was coursing through our veins. My Nonna would even give me little cups of it with milk when I was younger. The addiction continued as I carried on with school and extracurriculars to help me stay up late to do homework or play sports. It even became a regular part of my routine to down four cups daily throughout college. It’s safe to say that after many years, I can no longer stomach the same amount of coffee I used to. I even stopped drinking coffee regularly.

I started by cutting down the cup of coffee intake. However, more had to be done. According to the U.S. Food & Drug Administration, it can take four to six hours for your body to break down half of what you consumed, meaning the later you drink coffee, the longer it will take for this stimulant to break down. With that being said, I calculated the average time I tried to get to sleep (or at least into bed) and decided that I would make 4 p.m. my cut-off time. Here’s what happened once I stopped drinking coffee after 4 p.m.

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1. Easier sleep

According to Sleep Education, it is best to stop consuming caffeine in the afternoons or evenings to get proper sleep, and I’m a prime example of that. By no means am I a great sleeper, but once I cut back on the coffee I noticed I was able to lay in bed and not toss and turn as much while trying to fall asleep. This led to better sleeping patterns throughout the night and waking up in the morning without wanting to throw my phone alarm at a wall.

2. Less acid reflux

Coffee is very acidic, potentially reaching around an average pH of 4.85 to 5.13. Because of this, I noticed my acid reflux or GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease) became more and more severe, especially if I drank more coffee later in the day. It felt as if stomach acid was creeping up through my chest to my throat and just sitting there. Most of the time, I felt nauseous and it made me feel like I couldn’t drink or eat anything. Limiting myself to one cup of coffee in the morning helped to rid myself of that feeling.

3. No more sour stomach

Similar to acid reflux, my sour stomach causes me to feel nauseous and prevents me from wanting to eat. It almost felt like my stomach is bubbling acid around. However, while this may seem like a solely-acid reaction, it turns out that caffeine can also cause your stomach to feel uneasy.

In a 2017 e-publication from the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, caffeine is known as a stimulant of gastric acid secretion (GAS), meaning it can cause an upset stomach. Lo and behold, once I stopped drinking coffee later in the day, that sour stomach disappeared.

4. Reduced anxiety

As an anxiety-induced individual, drinking coffee is like adding fuel to the fire, especially if it’s more than one or two cups. According to a 2017 review from General Hospital Psychiatry, a study showed that the caffeine equivalent of five cups of coffee can spark panic attacks in patients with panic disorder. Furthermore, caffeine also increases anxiety in both patients with panic disorder and healthy adults.

If I still need a midday wakeup but don’t want to succumb to the anxiety shakes of coffee, I opt for tea. Not only does it lessen panic, but it also gives me a push to finish my day.

5. Fewer bathroom breaks

It’s common knowledge that the more fluids you drink, the more bathroom trips you’ll be making throughout the day. But because caffeine is a chemical, it increases the production of urine, which means that caffeine is a diuretic.

If I drank more coffee throughout the day, I’d constantly get up from my seat to use the bathroom. If I drank it later in the day, there was a good chance I’d wake up in the middle of the night to use the bathroom; sometimes even more than once! This ruined my sleeping pattern and caused me to become groggy the next morning. Ironically, would need coffee to help me get going.

When I stopped drinking coffee after 4 p.m., I broke the cycle of waking up during the night, and I am very grateful I’m getting my beauty sleep back!

Read next: Why Drinking Water Is Important for Your Gut Health, Says Expert

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