Many coffee drinkers are aware of the jitters. You might be experiencing a racing heart, sweaty palms, and are struggling to focus. These are common side effects of drinking too much coffee, and the good news is that they can be prevented. You don’t even have to give up your daily habit of drinking coffee to prevent or get rid of coffee jitters. Understanding what causes coffee jitters is important to understand how to get rid of caffeine anxiety and how to stop caffeine jitters – or even better, prevent them from happening in the first place.
What are Coffee Jitters?
‘The jitters’ is a term that is used to describe symptoms that are often experienced by many people after they have drunk too much coffee. The sensation will often start out with a rush of anxiety and a heightened sense of alertness. This could begin as a more positive sensation of having more energy, which is why many people drink coffee in the first place. Unfortunately, these are then often quickly followed by a range of other, less desirable symptoms such as sweating, shaking, restlessness and anxiety. Some people will even experience feeling out of breath and light-headed, which can sometimes feel like a panic attack or anxiety attack is coming on.
So, how do you get rid of caffeine jitters? It’s important to understand that all the sensations that you feel when you have the jitters are a result of the caffeine in your body. Caffeine has many properties, but it is toxic to many plants. In fact, it is produced as a self-defence by the coffee plant. Leaves drop from the coffee plant and decay on the ground around it, leaking the caffeine into the soil and preventing other plants from growing there, which is essential to the coffee plant’s survival.
When consumed by humans, caffeine acts as a stimulant. It blocks the adenosine receptors in the nervous system and can prompt your brain to enter fight or flight mode. Adenosine leads to feelings of tiredness and drowsiness, so by blocking it, caffeine can be effective in helping you feel more energetic, awake, and alert.
However, your body going into fight or flight has other side effects. Your circulatory system will send more blood around your body, which results in a raised blood pressure and heart rate. Despite caffeine being the main reason for getting the jitters, there are also other ingredients in coffee that can make you more susceptible, compared with other caffeinated beverages such as green tea. Coffee is high in acidity, which alters the way that the caffeine is processed by the body, particularly when drinking it on an empty stomach.
People who drink a lot of caffeine tend to develop a tolerance for it over time, and you will be able to drink more coffee before you start to experience the jitters. However, everybody has their limits, and if you’re getting jitters from drinking coffee, it’s usually a sign from your body that you have had enough.
What Coffee Types Lead to the Jitters?
Any type of coffee that contains caffeine has the potential to lead to coffee jitters if you drink enough of it. However, some particular styles and coffee roasts tend to carry a higher risk than others. Some types of coffee that are more likely to lead to jitter symptoms after drinking less include:
Espresso is a popular coffee drink but it is also high in caffeine, containing around the same amount as a six-ounce cup of filter coffee. Espresso that is drunk as an undiluted shot contains concentrated caffeine that is absorbed very quickly by the body. To reduce the impact, espresso can be diluted with water or milk. Adding milk is the best option since the proteins in the milk will take longer to break down after drinking, resulting in the slower release of the caffeine into your system. Or, drinking it black with hot water can be helpful, since you will drink it slowly.
Adding milk to your coffee might be effective in reducing the risk of getting the jitters, but sugary and sweet coffee can do the complete opposite. The body will get an intense, quick energy boost from breaking down simple sugars, which is very similar to the impact of caffeine. The effects of the caffeine in your body are compounded when you drink a sugary coffee drink like a vanilla or caramel latte. If you want to avoid the jitters or only tend to get them after drinking a sweet coffee beverage, the best option is to ditch sugar altogether. A quality latte will already have some sweetness from the steamed milk. If you like it sweeter, consider adding sweeteners, sugar-free syrups or honey instead.
The type of coffee roast that you drink can also increase your risk of getting the jitters afterwards. Some of the caffeine found in coffee beans will be lost during the roasting process, meaning that beans that are roasted for a shorter amount of time often have a higher caffeine content compared to beans that roast for longer. As a result, the average light roast has more caffeine and is more acidic compared to dark roasts, which make this type of coffee more susceptible to causing the jitters.
How to Get Rid of Jitters
Caffeine jitters anxiety is never a nice experience, but the good news is that if you want to know how to get rid of jitters, there are several simple things that you can try to get you feeling back to normal again if you’ve had too much coffee or are experiencing coffee jitters from drinking a strong coffee on an empty stomach.
Eating something can be the fastest way to get caffeine out of your system. Ideally, you should eat something before drinking coffee as this will slow the absorption of caffeine into your bloodstream and prompt your brain to produce serotonin, which will help to reduce the stress and anxiety effects. Eating something immediately after drinking coffee can also be helpful.
Try Tea Instead
If you want to avoid getting the jitters altogether, switching to tea instead of coffee can be helpful. Although tea leaves do contain just as much caffeine compared to coffee beans, the caffeine is in a different form, and therefore processed differently by the body. Drinking green or black tea instead of coffee in the morning can still give you the pick-me-up you’re looking for, without the jitters that drinking coffee can lead to.
Drink Water In Between
If you still feel tired and unalert after your first cup of coffee in the morning, it might be that you need to hydrate, rather than put more caffeine into your system. Dehydration can lead to feelings of fatigue and lethargy, even if you’ve had a good night’s sleep and a cup of coffee in the morning. Before going back for a second cup, try drinking a glass of water to see if this helps you become more alert and feel better.
Reduce the Caffeine Content
If you will struggle to get through your morning without a few cups of coffee, then you can reduce the risk of getting the jitters by switching to a coffee with a lower caffeine content. A half-caf blend can be an ideal choice for this, since you’ll still get enough caffeine to feel more alert and awake in the morning, without overdosing on it.
Stop Drinking Coffee When You Notice Symptoms
As soon as you notice that you are experiencing common caffeine jitter symptoms like shaky hands, sweaty palms or a racing heart, it’s important to make sure that you don’t have any more caffeine. Bear in mind that caffeine can come from various sources other than coffee including some medications, foods like chocolate, and other drinks including some fizzy drinks like Coca Cola. Ideally, consume only water and foods that don’t contain any caffeine until you are feeling better. Drinking herbal tea can also help, along with taking a vitamin C supplement.
Go for a Walk
If you are feeling anxious and restless due to the caffeine jitters, going for a short walk can help by making it easier for you to burn off some of the restless energy and relieve any anxious feelings. If you are in an environment that allows for it, stepping outside for a few minutes to get a brisk walk can help you get over the jitters.
How Much Coffee is Too Much?
The truth is that everybody is different when it comes to how much caffeine they can tolerate, so what might be far too much coffee for you could be just enough, or even not enough for somebody else. Some people can drink shots of espresso all day long and never get the jitters, while others find that having a single cappuccino leaves them feeling wired.
While caffeine can provide you with a helpful boost of energy, too much of it can lead to unwanted symptoms known as the jitters. Reducing your caffeine intake and understanding what you can do to calm the symptoms down is important for any avid coffee-drinker.