I’ve been addicted to caffeine for probably a few years now, and I never second guessed it until about a month ago. I have been dealing with TMJ pain for about two years now, and I am beyond sick of it. I am genuinely in constant pain. I wake up and can’t yawn without a shock of pain in my left ear/jaw. I can’t eat an apple or corn on the cob (both things I LOVE). Jogging sometimes agitates it, and massaging it doesn’t help. I purchased a bottle of 750 ibuprofen at the beginning of this year because I knew I would use it all before the expiration date. Like the rest of the world, I looked up solutions to my problem online and found out that caffeine can play a role in your TMJ pain.
I started quitting caffeine about three weeks ago, and here’s what I took away from that experience:
1. Research your reason for quitting to see other peoples’ experiences & tips.
I found a few people on forums and blogs that mention quitting caffeine because it can influence the clenching of muscles, which is obviously the opposite of what you want for sore TMJ muscles. I’ve since found some mixed reviews on whether it actually helps ease the pain, but it was worth a shot.
To finish off the TMJ part of this story, I’ll sum it up like this: quitting caffeine did pretty much nothing to ease my pain. BUT it did make me feel like a healthier human being! In any case, reading other people’s stories kept me going strong in my resolve to quite coffee, so it was worth researching.
2. Start the process of quitting.
I can think of only two options for quitting, but correct me if I’m wrong: cold turkey, or weening.
If you’re okay with the caffeine headaches for a couple of days, or aren’t too terribly reliant on caffeine, then by all means, enjoy that chilly fowl. I, on the other hand, could not handle the cold turkey method.
If you’re a person who drinks more than one cup of coffee per day, every single day, I highly recommend easing off, and not just quitting cold turkey. I decided to quit caffeine on a Friday night, which meant Saturday would be day 1. I got about 4 hours in before my head was splitting, so it was time for one of those refrigerated sugary “coffee” drinks from the grocery store, regardless of how gross I find them, just to get through the day. I had one cup of coffee Sunday, then a tiny bit less than one cup on Monday. Tuesday I had a half a cup of coffee, and Wednesday I had maybe a third cup. Thursday I had a chai tea latte, and then I cut myself off entirely. I felt spacey on Friday and over the weekend, but by the following Monday, I was alright!
3. Feel the benefits.
Like I said, Friday through Sunday of that first week of quitting, I felt terrible. I just wanted to nap all day. But after that I felt just the same as I did when I was drinking coffee before, only now I didn’t need to drink the coffee to get going! Before, I would wake up groggy and stay slightly grumpy until I had my morning cup ‘o Joe. Then later I would be unable to concentrate on anything until I had my afternoon caffeine fix. Now I wake up fairly alert, and I only need to drink water all day! I’m so hydrated, it’s silly.
4. The downsides?
One: I have no idea why, and this might not be something that happens to everyone, but I am seriously always thirsty! I have been drinking so much water, it’s not even funny. I’m pretty sure I had to pee a good 4 times in the last two hours of work today because of how much water I drank today.
Two: I actually miss the taste of coffee. That’s it. There’s no story to go along with it, other than that I bought and tried decaffeinated coffee, and it’s just not the same. I’ve switched to fruit juice for something to drink aside from coffee.
Overall, I definitely have to say the benefits have far outweighed the downsides. I have been three weeks free of coffee. I’ll drink a chai tea latte once a week if I’m feeling super tired on a Wednesday or I just feel like a treat, but I haven’t had an actual full cup of anything loaded with caffeine in THREE WEEKS. That’s the longest I’ve gone since I was probably fourteen years old.
I’m most excited to go on vacation week after next and NOT need to drink coffee to get started enjoying each day.
I’d love to hear about your experiences quitting caffeine, and feel free to ask me any questions you have.