Potential Caffeine Side Effects and Tips for Safe Use

It's smart to stay informed about possible caffeine side effects and precautions, especially if you're a fan of caffeinated beverages (such as coffee, energy drinks, or traditional teas). While caffeine (in moderation) can be good for us in many ways, it also comes with some potential side effects and concerns, too. 

Many of us love how caffeine can aid in increasing energy, improving concentration and performance, and boosting mood. At the same time, caffeine in excess may lead to concerning outcomes, such as insomnia, moodiness, increased anxiety, headaches, and more. 

Caffeine Side Effects | The Tea Talk

Keep reading to learn more about some caffeine side effects and precautions.

Lying awake at night? Caffeine may be the culprit

Many of us look to caffeine to help us stay alert, awake, and focused during exam time, when we're burning the midnight oil to finish up an important project for work, or even just to manage our busy days.

But, too much caffeine in our system too close to bedtime can lead to sleep difficulties, meaning we'll have trouble falling asleep and may wake every so often through the night.

If you're new to caffeine or don't consume it regularly, it's recommended to avoid high amounts all at once. Research indicates that energy drinks, for example, may cause alarming increases in blood pressure levels (especially for those who don't consume caffeine regularly), which may increase the possibility of cardiovascular problems.

To encourage a full, recuperative, good night's sleep, consider avoiding caffeine within at least four or five hours of bedtime (this gives the caffeine time to leave the system).

And, why not sip some caffeine-free chamomile tea in the early evening? This herbal tea is well-known for encouraging a sound, dream-free sleep, and you'll wake feeling well rested, refreshed, and ready for the day ahead. (See what our other readers are saying about chamomile tea benefits here.)

Other common caffeine side effects

Poor or interrupted sleep isn't the only potential side effect of too much caffeine. If you've 'overindulged' in caffeinated drinks or other sources of caffeine, you may end up experiencing some of the following physical, mental, and emotional symptoms:

  • feeling fidgety, anxious, nervous, or especially cross
  • heart palpitations or racing heart
  • higher blood pressure
  • tummy troubles, like nausea or vomiting
  • more frequent urination
  • jittery hands and feet
  • headache or migraine

Watch for extra calories and sugar in caffeinated drinks

Caffeine Side Effects | The Tea Talk

If you do enjoy caffeine and the boost it provides for mood and energy levels, you may want to keep an eye out for extra calories and sugar that may be sneaking into your diet in high-calorie, sweet, caffeinated drinks (like energy drinks, specialty coffees or teas, or soft drinks). 

| Related:  Herbal Tea Benefits

Consider other low-calorie, sugar-free ways to enjoy caffeine, like a tasty cup of oolong, yerba mate, or green tea. Or, to cut back on caffeine as well, try a zingy caffeine-free herbal tea, like cinnamon or Rooibos, for energy and satisfying flavor without the caffeine. 

Caffeine may not be a healthful choice for everyone

While moderate amounts of caffeine are generally considered safe for most healthy adults, caffeine isn't necessarily the best choice for each of us. 

Have a chat with your primary care provider about caffeine for you if you're being treated for any condition or taking any herbal remedies or medications (such as antibiotics, birth control pills, blood-thinning medication, or medication for high blood pressure, anxiety, depression, epilepsy, or a heart condition), as caffeine may affect the efficacy of these medications. 

What about caffeine for kids? 

Wondering whether any caffeine at all is good for children and adolescents? Learn more about caffeine for the younger members of your family on our Caffeine Facts page. 

And, if you're pregnant or nursing a little one, please ask your trusted healthcare physician about safe amounts of caffeine for you and your baby. (Read more here about caffeine and pregnancy.)

Cutting back? You may experience some withdrawal symptoms

Because caffeine is a stimulant, it is possible to become physically dependent on it. And, regularly consuming as little as 100 mg of caffeine daily may lead to caffeine withdrawal symptoms (like irritability, melancholy, headaches, tiredness, difficulty concentrating, or nausea) when cutting back or removing caffeine from the diet. 

If you're thinking of reducing your caffeine intake or eliminating caffeine completely, consider phasing it out gradually to lessen any potential withdrawal symptoms. Why not begin by switching from coffee or caffeinated tea to a delicious herbal tea later in the day? Brew up a tasty, caffeine-free, beneficial herbal tisane, such as cinnamon, ginger, or Rooibos, or treat yourself to a delicious herbal tea latte. 

Drop by our Tea and Caffeine page to find out more about caffeine amounts in tea. 

| Related:  Tea Recipes

Or, for some help weaning yourself off of caffeine (especially coffee), try this delicious recipe for Dandelion and Chicory Root Tea from Deliciously Organic

When cutting back on caffeine, keep an eye on other sneaky sources of caffeine, too, such as chocolate, energy and soft drinks, and certain prescription and over-the-counter medications (such as cold, pain, and allergy medications). Get to know more about sources of caffeine on our Caffeine Facts page

Figuring out how much caffeine works for each of us isn't an exact science. Caffeine affects each person differently, according to age, size, physical and mental health, how often we have caffeine (and how much), and various other factors.

Traditional teas from the Camellia sinensis tea plant (black, oolong, pu-erh, green, and white teas) are natural sources of caffeine. Get to know more here about these flavorful brews. 

So, for some, a big pot of black tea or a few cups of coffee may have little or no negative effect, while, for others, even a bit of caffeine may bring on irritability, sleep troubles, the jitters, or other caffeine side effects. 

Caffeine appears in many obvious and some not-so-obvious places, so be sure to stay informed about caffeine side effects, sources, and recommended amounts for each member of your household. Keeping an eye on caffeine consumption and making some healthful substitutions (like naturally sweet, caffeine-free Rooibos tea instead of an energy drink for children and teens in your family) can go a long way towards avoiding unwanted caffeine side effects. 

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