Why Skipping Coffee Gives You a Headache, According to Science
And the best way to kick the habit.
Although plenty of research shows that coffee is healthy to drink, there’s no changing the fact that it is, in fact, addictive. You can easily become dependent on it – as many of us are well aware – if you indulge in the caffeinated pick me up everyday. And anyone who has tried to quit probably knows just how painful it is to give up delicious, delicious coffee: You get extra tired, annoyed at everything, and yes, even a splitting headache.
Here’s the science behind why kicking coffee can be such challenge:
Caffeine sticks to the receptors in your brain, taking the place of a neurotransmitter (the chemicals that transmit messages between synapses in your brain) called adenosine, which typically keeps you calm and cool as a cucumber. Obviously, caffeine does the opposite.
Your confused coffee-soaked brain then tries to overcompensate, creating extra adenosine. That means that if, as Refinery29 explains, after years of drinking coffee, you suddenly decide to go cold turkey, you won’t experience the same level of tiredness that you would naturally. Extra adenosine means a stronger desire to sleep, and gives coffee addicts that familiar throbbing headache.
As we’ve reported before, you really shouldn’t be drinking any more than four 8-ounce cups of coffee every day. But if you’re within the designated limits and aren’t experiencing any other adverse health effects (like insomnia), there isn’t any reason you should put yourself through caffeine withdrawal pains. You might actually be helping your health with that ritual morning cup of coffee. But if you do decide to quit, the best way to approach the challenge is to slowly wean yourself off, not just abruptly stop.
In case you’re still worried about that nagging need for caffeine, this is a good rule of thumb to remember: Coffee, as with almost everything else in life, is best enjoyed in moderation.