7 Signs You’re Drinking Too Much Coffee

Updated: Feb. 26, 2021

The side effects of too much caffeine can be subtle. Here’s how your coffee addiction may be hurting your health.

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You feel anxious

Ruminating about an upcoming event or deadline can fuel your desire to grab a comforting mug of java. Yet, the National Institute of Mental Health recommends that people who suffer from anxiety avoid caffeine. Why? Too much coffee can actually worsen the effects of anxiety, either by robbing you of proper sleep or triggering your flight or fight response. In a 1990 study published in Psychosomatic Medicine25 men were given a moderate dose of caffeine or a placebo before a stressful task. The men, who were all regular coffee drinkers, had higher blood pressure, stress hormones, and about double the reported stress level with the caffeine compared with the placebo. Find out if drinking black coffee is good for you.

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Your stomach hurts

You may associate stomach pains with spoiled food or PMS cramps. You should add your morning brew to that list as well. In 2017, European scientists found that certain compounds in coffee stimulate the secretion of stomach acid by your stomach cells. Taking an over-counter medication like Tums can neutralize the acid short-term, but if you suspect coffee is making your stomach hurt, think about changing your coffee consumption habits. These 7 things happen to your body when you drink coffee every day.

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Your heart is racing

The feeling that your heart is beating too fast can be frightening. It may feel like your heart is trying to escape from your ribcage. These heart palpitations can be caused by the consumption of too much coffee and caffeine, nicotine, and even alcohol. In some cases, a racing heart can lead to dizziness and even fainting spells. According to a 2017 study in the journal Frontiers in Psychiatry, 94 percent of doctors recommend patients experiencing the fluttering heart beats stop consuming caffeine. Find out how much caffeine is in Death Wish Coffee.

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You have diarrhea

Most people know that coffee can help keep you regular, thanks to its laxative properties. Drink more than two or three cups a day, though, and you might get diarrhea, according to the International Foundation for Gastrointestinal Disorders. If you find your bathroom issues become unmanageable, the IFFGD recommends gradual withdrawal from caffeine. (Does coffee dehydrate you? Find out.)

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You can’t sleep

Insomnia can be a telltale sign of too much coffee. Even if you swear coffee doesn’t have any effect on you, this tasty drink can still wreak havoc on your sleep cycle. Coffee’s half-life is 5 hours, according to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine. That means it can take several more hours for the stimulant to completely leave your system. This can increase the number of times you wake up during the night, and decrease overall time asleep. To solve this problem, try to drink that last cup of coffee no later than noon.

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You’ve got the jitters

Coffee makes you feel more alert, but sometimes that feeling turns into too much of a good thing. This is where the jitters come in. Caffeine speeds up your central nervous system, causing you to feel jumpy. Skip that fourth cup and stop the shakes. Check out these myths about how coffee can affect your health.

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You get headaches

A moderate amount of caffeine helps relieve a headache, by helping pain-relief medications work better, according to a study in The Journal of Headache and Pain. That’s why you’ll find caffeine as an ingredient in many over-the-counter headache drugs. However, if you drink too much coffee for a sustained amount of time (getting a daily excess of 500 mg of caffeine, or the equivalent of five cups of coffee) and you can go through caffeine withdrawal. The symptoms include headaches and fatigue, found Johns Hopkins researchers. Slowly decrease your caffeine intake—and look at all the possible sources in your diet, including coffee, headache drugs, tea, soda, and energy drinks. Next, don’t miss the 10 problems that all coffee lovers understand.

Reader's Digest
Originally Published in Reader's Digest