Daily caffeine is normalized and embedded in our lives, but it's actually a very powerful drug with some serious effects on our brain, hormones, and lifestyle. The average coffee drinker in Canada drinks 3 cups of coffee, per day. Drinking 3 cups of coffee per day puts your average daily caffeine intake anywhere between 285mg to 400mg. More if you take pre-workouts.

Our bodies give us signs when over-caffeination is hurting more than helping, like anxiety, irritability, PMS, headaches, insomnia, gut troubles, puffiness, and skin issues. Instead of ignoring those biological signals, we should use them as indicators to take a break.

Whether you’re drinking 1 or 3 cups a day, here are 5 key ways to understand caffeine’s impact on your body—plus what happens when you wean off of it.


Coffee is abundant with benefits, and is clinically proven to promote health and longevity. However, the science is now clear that you can get these benefits from caffeine-free coffee.

Read: Drinking Coffee Is Associated With Increased Longevity

Caffeine and energy.

Why does caffeine make you feel energized?

Throughout the day, the body uses ATP (adenosine triphosphate) to create energy. A by-product of that process is adenosine, a central nervous system modulator that makes the body feel tired. The more ATP your cells use to fuel your daily activities, the more adenosine you produce throughout the day. When adenosine binds with brain receptors, brain activity slows, signaling to the body that it’s time to rest.

Essentially the more energy you use, the more you need to rest to recharge. Makes sense.

Caffeine is molecularly similar to adenosine and binds with adenosine receptors, which blocks your brain from receiving signals to feel tired. The effects usually last 4 to 6 hours, then your brain receptors are flooded with adenosine—leading to the crash.

Caffeine and your brain.

What happens to your brain when you drink caffeine? What happens when you withdraw?

When you drink caffeine regularly, your brain compensates by creating additional adenosine receptors. So when you stop adding caffeine into the equation, your brain will be flooded with adenosine and you’ll feel sleepy!

Many people also get headaches on the days they don’t drink coffee—that’s because caffeine constricts blood vessels, so when it’s not consumed, blood flow increases in the brain and causes headaches.

The good news is that all of these withdrawal symptoms last 7 to 12 days; that’s the period when the brain decreases its adenosine receptors.

Caffeine and your hormones.

How does caffeine impact our stress and sex hormones?

Studies have linked coffee consumption to estrogen dominance, particularly for women. That imbalance can cause fatigue, brain fog, irritability, worsened PMS symptoms, and so much more in the long-term.

Caffeine triggers the release of ACTH (adrenocorticotropin-releasing hormone), which can increase cortisol levels, your primary stress hormone. Excess cortisol can dysregulate the HPA access, keeping it in a state of hyperactivity and triggering harmful biochemical, physiological, and behavioral effects.

Caffeine also causes excitation in your brain that stimulates the release of adrenaline, your fight-or-flight hormone, from your adrenals, hijacking your nervous system and putting it in a state of reactivity.

The good news on the hormonal front is that after a week or so without caffeine, the HPA Axis can resume balance and regulate stress as usual.

Caffeine and your sleep.

How does caffeine impact our sleep quality and sleep-wake cycle?

Cortisol typically peaks an hour after waking to prepare the HPA Axis for anticipated stress. When you drink coffee immediately after waking up, it interferes with this process and disrupts the cycle of release of other hormones, including melatonin. When you miss your "melatonin window," it becomes much harder to fall and stay asleep.

As mentioned earlier, adenosine levels naturally increase throughout the day and decrease during the night, helping us to maintain a regular sleep rhythm. When caffeine blocks adenosine receptors in the brain, it delays the onset of sleepiness and reduces the quality and quantity of sleep. Sleep is vital for supporting healthy brain function, maintaining physical health, regulating the circadian rhythm, controlling the hormones that affect hunger, metabolism, growth, & stress, and promoting memory, learning, cognition, & mood.

Reduce caffeine, fix your sleep. The rest falls into place.

Caffeine and your lymph.

Is there a connection between caffeine and the lymphatic system?

While the direct effects of caffeine on the lymph are unclear, we feel like we can go out on a limb to consider a link between excess cortisol leading to the atrophy of lymphoid tissue and reduced immune system function.

In high-stress moments, cortisol reduces white blood cell flow and lymphatic drainage in order to avoid overwhelming any part of your body that might be in danger. In periods of prolonged stress, this prevents proper drainage and keeps toxins in the body.

Curious about going decaf and giving your energy, brain, hormones, sleep, and lymph a reset? Click here to get the tools you need to pause and power through.

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