First Things First... What Are Coffee Jitters?
If you’ve overdone it on the coffee at one point or another then you know what jitters are: that anxious, uneasy feeling that can set in after drinking slightly more than your fair share of caffeine.
Beyond the anxiety, you’ve probably experienced lots of the other not-so-pleasant over-caffeination symptoms as well.
Have you ever felt any of the following symptoms as a result of your morning (or, let’s be honest, 2pm) joe?
- Racing heartbeat
- Trouble sleeping
- Mental discomfort
- Shaky hands
If you've felt any or all of these symptoms, you've known the wrath of the dreaded caffeine jitters. We agree, it ain't fun.
But Where Oh Where do Coffee Jitters Come From?
There are still lots of unknowns when it comes to the exact effects on the brain of drinking too much coffee, but hopefully more studies will be done in the near future! Until then, here’s what we do know.
Is it okay if we get a little scientific?
A natural thing that happens all throughout your body is the binding of a molecule called adenosine with adenosine receptors. When that happens... well, you feel like taking a snooze.
Think of caffeine as essentially, the dude that cuts in while you and your date are dancing (we hate that bro too). It lodges itself into these adenosine receptors instead, blocking the adenosine from getting in. This makes you feel less sleepy, stimulates your brain activity, and spikes your blood pressure and heart rate. You might be thinking, “But this is what we want, right?”
We would agree! You’ve got meetings to run, papers to write, and kids to pick up from school. Caffeine, in low doses, can help you accomplish all that without sleepiness setting in.
What we don’t want is what happens to your body when you have that same caffeine in high doses.
Caffeine can have unwanted effects on your hormones, making your body pump out too much adrenaline and stimulating the fight-or-flight response.
That for sure explains the nervous, jittery, shaky-hands feeling.
Long-term, that spike in adrenaline causes some mild wear-and-tear on your body. It generally goes unnoticed by healthy adults, but the amped-up blood pressure and heart rate that go along with it can be dangerous for people with underlying health conditions.
So... How Much is Too Much
Since caffeine jitters are caused by caffeine 100% of the time, the obvious answer is to not drink too much. The real question is, how much coffee or soda or energy drinks can we realistically guzzle before we start getting coffee itters?
And the answer annoyingly is... it depends.
Caffeine affects everyone differently, meaning you might be able to handle 500-600mg a day (around 4 or 5 cups), while your coffee date is getting the shakes after cup number 2. That’s because different people have different levels of caffeine sensitivity (similarly to how one party friend can chug 13 glasses of rosè while another has a sip and is swaying in her seat).
Caffeine sensitivity just means “how slowly or quickly your body breaks down caffeine.” Almost anything can affect your sensitivity—your gender, metabolism, medications, even smoking habits!
The point is, everyone is different.
That makes setting a safe daily “limit” pretty tough to do, and the FDA stops just short of doing that. Its website says, “Experts agree that 600 mg (four to seven cups of coffee) of caffeine or more each day is too much.”
That said, if you’re a caffeine connoisseur (and if you’re interested in this article, that’s probably a safe assumption!) you probably don’t need to be told what your limits are. You’ve felt “the jitters,” and you know how much coffee you can drink before reaching that point.
what can You do when the jitters do set in?
After all, some days our morning latte(s) just affect us differently. An amount that feels perfectly fine one day can send us into a nervous, sweaty, restless spiral the next.
Here are some steps you can take if you find yourself being not-so-pleasantly affected by caffeine.
How to Get Rid of Coffee Jitters
1. Eat your heart out
Caffeine suppresses your appetite, so it’s easy to forget to eat enough on days we’ve overly-caffeinated. Here’s your reminder! Eating a healthy, filling meal will help your digestive system break down the caffeine a little faster, according to Livestrong.
Throw some whole grains as well as fruits and/or veggies in there, and you’ll be feeling like your all-star self in no time.
2. Guzzle a glass of water
Since caffeine is a diuretic, dehydration is a potential side effect of your morning energy drink, and that can intensify “jitter” symptoms. By the time you feel jitters, it’s too late for water to counteract them, but rehydration has lots of health benefits and will certainly make you feel better.
3. Throw back some herbal tea
Emphasis on herbal! Make sure your tea doesn’t have any caffeine, since that’s the last thing you need right now.
If restlessness or loss of sleep is the main issue, consider drinking a cup of tea. Not only will this hydrate you while still giving you that hot drink experience, one study found that a compound in tea (L-theanine) can counteract the sleep-depriving effects of caffeine and help you knock out faster.
4. Get your sweat on
The jitters are a sure sign that your body is harboring a little too much nervous energy. A really great way to get rid of that nervous energy is to do a rigorous workout. Maybe go for a run on your lunch break. Whatever you do, choose something you enjoy, you don’t want workout dread combined with jitters and nervousness!
5. Slow down and meditate
Since anxiety is a BIG sign you’ve got coffee jitters, taking some time to yourself to meditate can do wonders. If you can, get out in nature. Lots of studies have shown that being outside surrounded by natural beauty makes us happier and more energized. If hanging out in a forest isn’t an option or your cup of tea, do everything you can to create a peaceful atmosphere and then stay there for five to ten minutes while you get your stressors out of your mind.
How to Get Rid of Coffee Jitters in the Future
We talked about it earlier, but the best (and most obvious) way to avoid the jitters is to cut back on coffee.
But then, this poses the dilemma of having to actually drink less coffee, which is often easier said than done.
Here are some great ways to cut back without feeling like you’re missing out!
I know, I know, easier said than done. But this is your only body we’re talking about—maybe there are one or two things that can get moved around in your daily routine to help it out and score you a little extra shut-eye. You’ll wake up feeling more refreshed and without such an urgent need for caffeine.
2. Take stock
There might be some sneaky sources of caffeine in your life that you haven’t considered. Try keeping track of the amount of caffeine you’re taking in for a few days. Make sure to think about things like chocolate, gum, and OTC’s like Excedrin. You might be surprised!
3. Recognize your triggers
What makes you feel like you need a cup of coffee, when in reality you may not? Is it driving past your favorite coffee shop? The way espresso smells when it’s being ground? Chatting with somebody in the break room next to the coffee pot? Recognizing when you’re in these situations might help you figure out when you actually need a boost and when you’re just reaching for a mug on auto-pilot.
4. Don’t deprive yourself of the sensations of coffee
Oof. That probably hurts to read, but bear with me. I promise I only have your best interests in mind and I’ve never intended to hurt you.
All jokes aside, once your body adjusts to lower (or non-existent? You can do it!) levels of caffeine, drinking decaf will feel like a totally fine substitute, and you’ll get all the good feels that a hot cup of coffee brings with it, and none of the bad stuff.
Is it just the smell of coffee that you can’t get enough of? Totally valid! Try burning a coffee-scented candle while you work or study instead of brewing a pot. Just watch out for the possibility that it could set off cravings!
5. Explore other fun drink options
Ever tried kombucha? Or that green juice stuff that’s all over Pinterest? Or green tea in holiday flavors like “candy cane?” There’s a world of possibilities, and coffee is just one of them! Many will even give you a healthy energy boost.
6. Sip Sutra
Coffee can be sort of sketchy for your health, but if you replace one of your daily cups with a cup of SUTRA Black or Gold, you can be totally sure that you’re doing something amazing for your body. Coffee just can’t compete with the long list of healthy ingredients in SUTRA! Plus, you won’t have to worry about jitters, because SUTRA increases your energy naturally without caffeine. Yah, ZERO caffeine.
Check out this review by Dawn V:
“I didn’t intend to give up coffee but I had this one morning and noticed I was less jittery and just felt better.”
Or this review by Samantha C:
"I was recently diagnosed with an illness where I had to eliminate a lot of food but also caffeine. That meant giving up my beloved coffee. However, I found your GOLD Sutra and now feel like I’m back to sipping a chai tea latte. Love it so much I just bought more!! Thank you for creating this product!!"
Not only will SUTRA give you natural energy, but both flavors are gorgeous, they taste great, and you’ll still get the experience of waking up to a delicious hot drink.
Jitters suck, there’s no question about it. Try using a few of the tips above the next time they set in and you’ll be ready to take on the rest of the day!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR - Jenna Martin
I’m a college lifestyle blogger on a mission to inspire other college kids to seek out adventure and live healthy, positive lives. Ever since about tenth grade I’ve been obsessed with all things health and fitness, and I love teaching what I’ve learned. In my free time you’ll probably find me writing, lifting, or doting on my handsome cat. Click here if you want to know more!