Check out this great guest blog from our friend, Alex, over at Coffee Abode!
“Most of us are used to a routine, especially when we wake up. For most of us, the very first thing we do when we wake up is to have a hot cup of coffee. It sends an instant boost of energy throughout the body and charges us up to tackle the rest of the day.
But, there have been times where you may have run out of coffee or you were running really late for work and you end up skipping that precious cup. You just know right away that the day is going to be miserable and you often end up getting a headache and you feel lethargic.
So, is it just our brain trying to play tricks on us or is it really the case that not having coffee will lead us to have a headache?
When All Is Well and Good
You may have heard that coffee contains caffeine, which is a stimulant. This stimulant enters our brain moments after we sip it. It then blocks the receptors which are responsible for dulling the activity in the brain.
When this stimulant blocks the dulling in our brain, what we end up feeling is more focused, with a sense of invigoration and even a subtle euphoria. This ultimately results in our overall daily performance to be enhanced. Which is why we feel more energetic and focused at work or at college. Presumably, this is why most of us drinks it.
It goes without saying that this is one of the upsides of consuming coffee. All’s well and good till it is not. That happens when you stop having it.
Having A Headache Is A Real Headache
Have you ever had a plan to hike and because of the lack of coffee in the kitchen that day, you had to cancel the trip due to pulsating pain? - I have.
Or a plan to write that report for your project but pain hits, causing you to lose your focus? - Yep, checked.
It is not a great feeling. It begs the question, why do we have it?
Far more common among those who are addicted to caffeine or simply drank too much. Not having one causes withdrawal, where headache is one of the more salient symptoms.
When you drink your coffee, the caffeine narrows the main blood vessel that slows the flow of blood into your brain. Consequently, when you missed your daily brew, the vessel loosens, and the blood is more rapid than what you (or your brain) are usually accustomed to; and there you have it - headache.
What Do They Feel Like and How Long Will They Last?
Personally, when I used to have some sort of withdrawal, it felt like there is a pulsing pain at the back of my head. However, there are those people who would feel as if there is a tense band that is wrapped across your head. Which is why these headaches are also referred to as tension-type headaches.
There is also a possibility that caffeine withdrawal could potentially trigger a migraine, especially in people who are prone to it.
These headaches are typically short-lived though they can last anywhere between a day to a week.
How Not to Get These Withdrawals?
One word - Moderation.
Often, good things become bad when consumed in excess, coffee included.
If you are noticing that you might be addicted to caffeine (It’s really obvious when you keep getting refills), try to gradually decrease your intake over time and not drink more than one cup per day eventually.
One common mistake is to go cold turkey. Do not go cold turkey! For those that do not know what it is. This means cutting it off completely and often abruptly. This will make the headache very noticeable and chances are, you will go back to your usual dose.
So, in a nutshell, because coffee contains the stimulant “caffeine”, it gives you a withdrawal when you do not consume it, even for a day. Amongst the different effects this withdrawal would cause, headaches are one of them and are something you cannot get away from.
If you are trying to reduce your coffee consumption, make sure to do so gradually, so that the withdrawal is more manageable, sometimes unnoticeable.
Alex is an avid coffee enthusiast. Having tried his first cup during college, he has experienced both the good and bad of coffee for the past decade or so. Now, he travels around the globe to explore different variants of coffee drinks. He writes over at CoffeeAbode.com.”