Every day, approximately 90% of Americans consume caffeine in some form. Whether in the form of coffee, tea, energy drinks, or soda, caffeine is a normal part of many of our morning routines that helps put a little pep in our step. With that said, we’ve all experienced some of the rather undesirable side effects of caffeine—gastrointestinal issues, jitters and anxiety, headaches, and the list goes on. While some may never entirely nix their morning cup of joe, more and more people are looking for focus and energy alternatives. Here, we discuss some of the main disadvantages of caffeine and explore a new and exciting alternative to caffeine.
Disadvantages of Caffeine
Most of us are familiar with the advantages of caffeine—it can alleviate fatigue, increase mental alertness, enhance mood (when taken in moderation), and even enhance some cognitive abilities. However, we don’t often think about the disadvantages of caffeine.
When used over a long period of time, or in doses over 400 mg daily, caffeine can produce some undesirable side effects.
1) Nervousness and Anxiety
Anxiousness is perhaps the most well-known disadvantage of caffeine. Shaky hands, racing heart rate, nervous energy—many of us are familiar with the pesky caffeine jitters and the anxiousness that often accompanies them. Caffeine increases energy and alertness by blocking receptors of the neurotransmitter adenosine, a brain chemical that makes you feel tired, while simultaneously increasing levels of other neurotransmitters that regulate energy, such as adrenaline (the fight or flight hormone). This causes your heart to beat faster, your blood pressure to rise, and your breath rate to increase, causing you to feel anxious.
New research suggests that caffeine intake may also affect women differently than men in terms of anxiety status. A recent 2022 study found that women in the highest percentile of caffeine intake showed significantly higher odds for high trait anxiety compared to those in the lowest percentile, even after adjusting for potential confounders.
2) Gastrointestinal Issues
Two words: coffee poops. While most of the laxative-like effects of drinking a cup of coffee are believed to be attributed to the acidity of coffee, caffeine itself can contribute to gastrointestinal issues. This is because when you ingest caffeine, your body releases specific hormones that trigger a gastrocolic reflex, which stimulates your body to make a bowel movement.
One study found that caffeinated coffee stimulates colonic motor activity. The magnitude of this effect was 23% stronger than that of decaffeinated coffee.
3) Circadian Rhythm Disruptions
For many, it can be tricky to overcome the afternoon slump without the use of caffeine. While a caffeinated beverage at 3 pm can certainly help combat the drop in energy, it often leads to difficulty falling asleep at night. This, of course, leads to a vicious cycle of needing more caffeine the next morning because you didn’t get a good night’s rest.
During a study, it was found that consuming caffeine even six hours before bedtime reduced total sleep time by one hour. Another study found that caffeine can delay the timing of your body’s circadian rhythm (your 24-hour internal clock).
4) Not for Everyone
Another disadvantage of caffeine is that it’s not recommended for everyone, yet we all need to get our energy somewhere. Caffeine intake is recommended to be either limited or avoided entirely for people who:
Have a sleep disorder
Have migraine or other chronic headaches
Have GERD or ulcers
Have an arrhythmia
Have high blood pressure
Take certain medications or supplements
5) Dependency and Withdrawal Issues
Just like drugs and alcohol, you can develop a dependence on caffeine, as sustained consumption causes chemical changes in the brain. If you ingest caffeine daily, you develop a tolerance that requires you to need more and more of it to feel the same level of alertness.
Additionally, if you consume caffeine on a regularly and suddenly stop, you can experience withdrawal-like symptoms, such as:
While there are quite a few disadvantages of caffeine, a cup of coffee here and there is okay for most people. After all, life is all about balance. But there are also plenty of great alternatives you can add into your morning routine to boost your energy and focus without the crash, anxiety, or sleeplessness that comes with things like caffeine and adderall.
At Feals, we’re dedicated to providing you a better way to feel better—and focus better. Our brand-new Focus Melts are made with a proprietary blend of cannabichromene (CBC) and tetrahydrocannabivarin (THCV) called Tetracitrene™ that gives you a natural boost when you need to get stuff done with zero caffeine or sugar.
These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. This article is for informational purposes only. It is not, nor is it intended to be, a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment and should never be relied upon for specific medical advice.