The love for Coffee

I started drinking coffee since I was probably around 13 or 14, and fell in love with it. Except that it makes me sleepy, instead of giving me a kick start to my day. Although it did help me focus a bit, except that I either spend the next hour yawning every 30 seconds, or really needing to lie down and take a nap (and wake up feeling sleep deprived), depending on how strong the coffee is. It seems that the stronger the coffee is, the sleepier I get. As an adult, there was a point when I used coffee to put myself to sleep, and would sleep through my alarms because the sleep was quite too deep.

Fifteen years later, at 29, I been diagnosed with ADHD/ADD by 2 different psychiatrists (I went to get a 2nd opinion just to make sure), and I mentioned it to them but both of them did not really get into it, and the first one seemed to even find it unique. ADHD is not really a common diagnosis in our country, just to provide context.

However, as I join ADHD communities, I learned it’s not really an unusual reaction to coffee. Finally, there are people who agrees with me. I also read an observation here that mostly those with Hyperactive or Combined form of Hyperactive/Inattentive type gets relaxed by stimulants such as coffee. I’m the latter, and it explains so much.

I just want to put this out there and share it to anyone who probably felt the same way I did. I actually had Impostor syndrome with this topic (along with hundreds more all throughout my life but that’s for a different discussion I’ll probably never open), thinking maybe I’m just too dramatic, being too individualistic, or just drank too much coffee that I’ve become immune to its effects. It’s a normal reaction to coffee, whatever our “normal” is.

Also, to those who were already aware, and is in the same situation, do you have any advice how to function even if you’re sleepy? It’s harder to focus when I skip it, and focus better but only for a short time because I need to lie down. I tried cutting down my caffeine dose, but then the headaches…

Stimulant medication does the same thing to me and I tried 2 different ones, one of them getting me to a point I had to take a day off work because I was just not functioning, so I just stopped taking them.

And I would also love to hear other people’s experiences with ADHD + Coffee.

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I love drinking coffee, too. I first had it at about eleven years old, with permission from my parents. (When I was a youth, many people believed that coffee was outright bad for kids, even though in previous generations in America, plenty of kids drank coffee or tea regularly.)

I’ve been drinking it regularly since I was 12. BONUS: As a result, didn’t need an asthma inhaler anymore, until I got sick with COVID last year. I understand that caffeine has a similar effect to Albuterol or other asthma inhaler medications. (Caffeine plus inhaler have an additive effect for asthma management, according to science. If caught without inhaler, an asthmatic can try drinking a cup of coffee to improve symptoms, according to a news article I read almost 20 years ago.)

  • Sorry to go off on a tangent like that. (I did so much more often before starting on ADHD meds!)

I’m the Predominantly Inattentive ADHD type. I’ve found the need to go off of caffeine once or twice a year, which I call a “caffeine fast”. I do this when the caffeine begins to have the effect of making me sleepy.

  • Caffeine does not wake me up. It can help me stay alert if I’m tired, if I’m trying to stay awake, but it takes conscious effort. I can drink strong coffee and still be able to fall asleep, if I want to sleep.

Starting the caffeine fast, I have learned to reduce my caffeine intake by half for at least two days, to reduce the chance of caffeine withdrawal headaches (and reduce the severity, if I do get headaches). I’ve found that drinking lots of water or sports drinks too help flush my system. (Gatorade or Powerade are my preference, no “energy drinks” because they usually have caffeine.) I switch to decaffeinated coffee, because I love the taste of coffee, it’s what I’m used to drinking all day long, and it’s a morning breakfast ritual.

  • If I do get a caffeine withdrawal headache, I’ve found aspirin to be the most effective painkiller for me. The second most effective is ibuprofen. Tylenol can help me, but doesn’t take the headache pain away completely.

I have to go completely off of caffeine for at least 5 days for my tolerance to it to go away. Other people might need longer.

Note: I tend to crave sugar more and be more hungry when I’m off caffeine. It is an appetite suppressant.


TLDR - Here’s my process to go on a Caffeine Fast:

  • I reduce caffeine intake for 2-3 days by half (making my coffee with 1/2 regular coffee grounds and 1/2 decaffeinated coffee grounds) before cutting out all caffeine.
  • My fast will last 5-7 days no caffeine, switching to decaffeinated coffee ONLY (which has trace amounts of caffeine). Throughout the fast, I drink more water than normal. I might also drink caffeine-free sports drinks, such as Gatorade or Powerade, which I think reduce the incidence or severity of caffeine withdrawal headaches. (I just expect there to be headaches, and am pleasantly surprised when there are none.)
  • At the first sign of headache, I take an over the counter painkiller. I’ve found aspirin to be most effective for me, next most effective is ibuprofen, and Tylenol helpful but not able to remove headache entirely.
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I like coffee so much that, in early adulthood, I wanted to open my own coffeehouse. This idea came to me before Starbucks started appearing everywhere. I think I had the inspiration in 1996, but I never acted on it. The dream is still there in the back of my head, along with the building layout plan and other ideas that I had for it.

Yes @pawlinne17 it has a similar effect on me. I have been drinking coffee since I was about 11 years. In my family everyone drank a lot of coffee. My mother used to make herself a cup of coffee to go to bed.

Also as @j_d_aengus mentioned coffee helps with my asthma and with my allergies in spring. It is a good antihistamine. I fast coffee once a year and get bad withdrawal headache if I do it too quick. My strategy is to brew a decaf every second cup. And yes, I snack more when I drink less caffeine. Actually with my medication my urge for coffee got less (elvanse/vyvanse) and I have reduced my coffee intake, but as soon as the meds wear off I have a strong desire to drink a cup of coffee.
Something that might interest you, it (the paradox) also works the other way around. When I was in hospital the I and my one child had a paradox reaction on sedatives before an operation. Getting wide awake and hyper was not what was needed.

I don’t drink coffee, but I have heard about the effects of caffeine on ADHD and it’s pretty interesting. I have never had caffeine so I think that’s one reason why my ADHD was undetected for so long.

You’ve never had chocolate or any kind of caffeinated soda or leaf tea?

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I’ve had chocolate, but no caffeinated drinks (at least not on purpose), and we always buy decaf tea.

While chocolate does have caffeine, it’s a very small amount, compared to any caffeinated beverage.

The personal choice not to have caffeine it totally fine.

I’ve known people who avoided caffeine because of a teaching in their faith. If I understand it right, it’s not a sin in their faith, but I believe the teaching is because of the addictive nature of caffeine.)

I knew one person who could not have chocolate or anything caffeinated because it would give them headaches (they said it was a allergic reaction to caffeine).

Whether by personal choice, beliefs, or medical necessity, all are valid reasons not to have caffeine.

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In my family it was never so much a religious choice as a “you’re too young for caffeine” thing, and I’ve never been particularly eager to try it because I know people with health issues who can’t have caffeine. And the main reason I avoid caffeine is because of my anxiety and the fact that I don’t want to self-medicate with it. (I’m afraid that caffeine is a slippery slope of sorts.)

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That would be my religion. One of our beliefs is that we should not use habitually or recreationally things that have medicinal purpose and/or are mentally addling.

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