Is Caffeine Making You Irritable?

It’s not that caffeine is “bad,” in fact it can be very helpful at times. But there are a few ways that caffeine can contribute to irritability.

COLD TURKEY If you are physically dependent on it and you decide to go off caffeine cold turkey, you will likely get a headache and feel irritable until your body gets used to going without in the morning. So wean yourself off the caffeine over a period of weeks. Go half and half caffeinated and decaf coffee for a couple of weeks, for example, and then go one-quarter caffeinated and three-quarters decaf for another two weeks.

SLEEP DISTURBER Caffeine is a stimulant and will disrupt your sleep if you consume it too late in the day, making you cranky and exhausted the next day. Some people are more sensitive to this than others. You probably know who you are.

SHAKY and LIGHT-HEADED? Caffeine can bring you up with a burst of energy and then throw you down into a spiral of low energy. Some of us are more sensitive to his than others. The way to minimize this is to avoid large doses of caffeine and to consume your caffeine along with a balanced meal or snack.


—Elaine Magee, MPH, RD

Wellness and Performance Dining Nutritionist

For more information, contact Elaine:

nutritionist@stanford.edu