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"I quit coffee, and it feels amazing."

Ethan Hawke and Winona Ryder slurp coffee in ‘Reality Bites’.

I never thought I’d say this, but… I quit coffee, and it feels amazing.

There’s nothing wrong with drinking coffee. I love almost everything about it. The ritual of visiting my favourite café and chatting with the barista, the warmth of the takeaway cup in my hand, the smell, the morning buzz it gives me. I also love preparing it myself at home, and curling up on the couch as I drink it.

Since I was in uni, I developed a habit of drinking coffee every day. I’d been doing it for so long that I didn’t even realise that it was affecting my sleep.

Related: 6 ways to make your sleep work harder.  

I’ve always had problems sleeping, particularly falling asleep. It’s annoying, and now that I have a toddler, my sleep time has become even more precious.

Kenneth from '30 Rock' also loves coffee.

One day, I accidentally quit coffee. I just forgot to drink it. And that night, I fell asleep quicker than usual, and had a satisfying, deep slumber.

I had such a good sleep that I didn’t feel the need to drink coffee the next day. That following night, I also slept well. And thus began my cycle of not drinking coffee.

I realised that I’d been stuck in a different cycle, which was motivated and affected by caffeine. I’d have two coffees each day, and even though both of them were before 5pm, I’d still have trouble falling asleep. The next morning, I’d wake up feeling tired, so I’d drink coffee to prop myself up. (Post continues after gallery.)

Then the cycle of sleeplessness, tiredness and caffeine would just repeat itself. Caffeine has the effect of changing the chemistry of the brain, and blocking the action of the brain chemical which causes feelings of drowsiness (adenosine).

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Let's face it, though -  when I refer to being in a "cycle" of drinking coffee, I really mean that I was addicted to it. I asked Michele Chevalley Hedge, qualified nutritionist and founder of myfamilywellness.com.au if it is possible to become addicted to coffee.

They also love coffee on 'Portlandia'.

"Yes, you can actually get addicted to caffeine," confirms Michele, "but most people have created a mental and/or emotional tie to their coffee ritual." Well, that explains my sentimentality towards the whole chatting-with-my-barista-and-smelling-the-beans thing.

Michele doesn't think that coffee is necessarily "bad" for you. She believes that "one organic coffee per day with a small amount of dairy is fine".

Why organic, you may ask?  "Coffee as a crop is heavily treated with pesticides," warns Michele, "so try to buy organic when you can."

Those Gilmore Girls really liked their coffee.

Don’t get me wrong, I still drink coffee very occasionally. I had a cup before work to perk myself up, because I’d only had three hours sleep the previous night.

A cold and cough had kept my daughter awake all night. I also still drink tea, so it’s not as though I’ve given up caffeine entirely. The difference is that I don’t drink coffee habitually, and I don’t feel the desperate need for it.

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I will admit, though, that I still feel tired during the day. To counteract this, I have a confession: I boost my energy with chocolate. Hurrah! Nothing's more fun than gobbling those mini Aldi chocolate bars during a mid-afternoon slump, right?

Wrong. Michele's tip for feeling awake and energetic is to balance your blood sugar with a low sugar lifestyle. "Sugar swings high and then low will leave people with feeling tired and moody," she explains.

Kenneth from 30 Rock tried coffee for the first time...and the rest is history.

As an alternative, Michele suggests drinking green tea, dandelion tea, or any herbal teas, as well as eating chia seeds and cinnamon. But really, the secret to feeling well-rested is easy and obvious.  "If you are using coffee to keep you awake then get some more sleep, don’t use coffee as your crutch," advises Michele.

Related: “I’m an adult man and I found out I had worms.”  

I do miss the social aspects of drinking coffee, and I miss the taste and smell. But the solid nights of sleep make it all worth it.

Do you drink coffee? Or do you avoid it? Chat with us in the comments!

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