words Alexa Wang
For many of us, it’s virtually impossible to imagine the start of the day without a cup of coffee. Or two. It’s more than just the caffeine hit – it’s a ritual.
Routines help us stay productive and use the most of our day, and if your ritual for starting your day involves coffee – you’re going to have a hard time without it. But what if you have too much of it? How will your body and your mind react? Let’s take a look at some of the side effects of too much coffee.
How Much is Too Much?
Before we get into the effects, we need to determine how much is too much coffee – when do you start to notice the negative effects? Firstly, to make things clear – it’s not the coffee itself that causes the effects, it’s the caffeine in it. And if we take that an average cup has about 75mg of caffeine, then for an average adult, six cups of coffee per day is when you will start to notice the negative side effects. The experts behind Sip Coffee House explained that if you want to avoid these effects, drink under six cups, or switch over to decaf. You can also mix half regular and half decaf to get the same flavor with less caffeine.
It won’t surprise you that coffee makes your heart beat faster. It’s a stimulant, and therefore it makes your heart race. This is especially prominent in people who don’t regularly drink coffee. A heart beating fast isn’t an issue – the issues begin when that heart starts beating irregularly. That can be especially dangerous for people with pre-existing heart conditions, as it can trigger further issues. If you notice your heart beating irregularly, cut back on the intake.
This irregular beating pace can lead to arrhythmia and even more serious issues. There’s a close connection between atrial fibrillation and caffeine when taken excessively so make sure to watch your dosage. Too much coffee can also increase your blood pressure, and in some cases lead to further heart issues like angina or even a stroke.
Staying in the heart, too much coffee can also raise your blood pressure. Coffee itself doesn’t raise the risk of stroke or heart attack, but constant elevated blood pressure can contribute over time, as it constricts the blood vessels and makes it harder for enough blood to reach the brain and heart. If you have issues with high blood pressure, this could be to blame.
Coffee is what we use to wake up in the morning, so it’s no surprise that too much coffee will keep us up at night. Caffeine keeps you awake, which is great for a long study session or finishing up a project, but not so great when you’re trying to get sleep before a big day tomorrow. Remember that coffee doesn’t work instantly – it takes some time for the caffeine to kick in, so if you take it in the late afternoon, it might start working when you’re getting ready for bed! In addition to that, if you do manage to fall asleep, you might be waking up far more often during the night and get an overall worse quality of sleep. The worst part there is that poor sleep will lead to drinking more coffee tomorrow, and the cycle continues.
Coffee makes you more alert. But if you’re alert enough, it can make that kick into overdrive, causing you to be aware of things that – aren’t happening. If you find yourself jittery, anxious, worried about things you’d never be worried about regularly, maybe it’s time to cut back on the caffeine. This is especially important for people who already have an anxiety disorder, as caffeine might make it even worse. Different people can tolerate different amounts, but if you’re already on edge because of a big exam, or something you’re trying to finish – and you’re fueling yourself with caffeine to get it done – you might just be making things worse.
It’s no secret that the morning cup of coffee gets the bowels moving. Coffee has laxative properties, so while sometimes it might be part of our healthy digestive routine to get things moving – too much of it might lead to loose stools or even diarrhea. In addition to that, if you have gastroesophageal reflux disease, you might find that drinking coffee makes it worse. In that case, switch over to tea instead.
Coffee might be a favorite drink for many, but like all things in life – moderation is key. Stay below six cups per day, or if you notice side effects – lower the amount even more. Remember that a big part of drinking coffee is a habit – you probably don’t need as much as you think, but it’s part of your ritual so you consume far more than you need.