Plenty of people use a cup of coffee to get moving in the morning, but how do you know when it's become too much of a good thing? The surprising signs you might want to cut back on caffeine prove that this stimulant can have unexpected side effects. Caffeine can be a wonderful helper when you need to stay alert, but it can have some downsides, too.
First, though, consider just how much caffeine is generally thought to be OK for a single person to enjoy on a daily basis. "Evidence demonstrates that for most healthy adults, 400mg of caffeine a day appears to be safe," Kelsey Western, M.D., resident physician in the Mayo Clinic Family Medicine Residency Program in Eau Claire, Wisconsin, tells Romper. "This is roughly the equivalent of 4 cups of coffee, though caffeine content of coffee varies widely." In addition to coffee, it's important to remember that teas, sodas, and energy drinks can also pack in the caffeine. In fact, headache and PMS medications, as well as some breakfast cereals, can also contain caffeine, according to Sleep.org. With all these sources, it may be easier to overdo it on this stimulant without even realizing it. With this in mind, keep an eye out for the signs of caffeine overuse, because it's possible to have too much of this good thing.
1. You Have Constant Headaches
Although caffeine is sometimes used to help ease headaches, it can actually make them worse in some circumstances. "Evidence shows that people who consume caffeine daily are more likely to have chronic migraines and medication overuse headaches than people who don’t regularly consume caffeine," says Dr. Western. Consider discussing your caffeine consumption with your doctor if constant, severe headaches are affecting your life.
2. You Experience Digestive Issues
If you're dealing with stomach upset, then consider your caffeine intake. Caffeine consumption may increase the body's peristalsis, or the contractions that move food through the digestive system, according to Healthline. In other words, issues with loose stool or even diarrhea may be related to the number of coffees you get throughout the day.
3. You Deal With Anxiety
For the most part, caffeine isn't super great at helping people relax and zen out. It has quite the opposite effect. In fact, anxiety is another one of the clinical symptoms of caffeine overuse, as Dr. Western explains.
If you experience anxiety, however, this doesn't mean you must swear off all coffee drinks forever. It's more about knowing your own body's limits. "Caffeine is not the enemy," said Dr. Julie Radico, a clinical psychologist with Penn State Health, in a university news release. "But I encourage people to know healthy limits and consume it strategically because it is activating and can mimic or exacerbate the symptoms of anxiety." If you're feeling particularly anxious one day, for instance, then consider going for a decaf beverage to avoid worsening your anxiety.
4. You Have Tremors
Are your hands shaking a bit after that second cup of coffee? Tremors are another symptom of caffeine overuse, as Dr. Western says. It's basically a physical sign that cutting back on caffeine is a good idea.
5. You Struggle With Chronic Insomnia
Sure, most people understand that downing a ton of coffee right before bed could make it super challenging to drift off. But caffeine may affect your sleep habits more than you realize. Insomnia is another sign of caffeine overuse, says Dr. Western, and this is a step above more commonplace sleep troubles. (To learn more about the distinction, there's a guide to the differences between sleep difficulties and insomnia on Bustle.) For people who are seriously struggling to get a good night's rest, caffeine could make the whole situation worse.
6. You Use The Bathroom All The Time
Sure, plenty of people have to make a beeline for the bathroom soon after enjoying a hot coffee. Caffeine can be a diuretic, or something that makes you pee a lot, according to Healthy Women. If you're running off to the bathroom basically all the time, then the caffeine could be the culprit.
7. You Skip Other Activities For Caffeine
In more serious cases of caffeine addiction, it may mess with with the rest of your daily activities. "Caffeine dependence or abuse implies a pattern of use that interferes with normal life patterns," says Dr. Western, who further explains that signs of caffeine dependence can include "sacrificing social or recreational tasks in exchange for spending time obtaining, using, or recovering from caffeine." If it's interfering with your life this much, then consider discussing your caffeine intake with a doctor or healthcare professional. Caffeine can be a great pick-me-up, but it's also rather easy to overdo it with this super-popular stimulant.