Caffeine is a central nervous system stimulant, and when consumed in small amounts, it can give you the boost you need to get through your day. Just make sure you don't go overboard — if you're shaking after drinking coffee, you may need to limit your caffeine intake.
According to the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines, moderate caffeine consumption (about three to five 8-ounce cups of coffee per day) can be incorporated into a healthy lifestyle. When consumed in excess, caffeine may cause anxiety, jitters and other adverse reactions.
What Is Caffeine?
The U.S. National Library of Medicine states that caffeine is a bitter substance that occurs naturally in over 60 plants, including coffee beans, tea leaves, kola nuts (used in cola) and cocoa pods. Another common type of caffeine is synthetic and can be found in a wide range of medicines and energy drinks.
Most packaged foods and drinks that contain caffeine list this information on the label. Consumers should take into consideration how much caffeine, or added caffeine, a product contains before consuming it. Too much of this compound may affect your health and cause unwanted side effects.
According to the FDA, caffeine can be part of a healthy diet for most people. However, depending on several factors, such as your body weight, individual sensitivity and what medications you take, it may pose a danger to your health. After consumption, it can take up to six hours for your body to metabolize just half of the caffeine ingested.
Read more: How Many Cups of Coffee Can You Drink a Day?
Caffeine, Jitters and Anxiety
The Cleveland Clinic states that caffeine passes into the bloodstream from the stomach and small intestine. Once in the bloodstream, it stimulates the central nervous system, making you feel more awake and alert. This alertness can be felt as soon as 15 minutes after you consume a cup of coffee.
According to the American Psychological Association, not only does caffeine increase mental stimulation, but it can also raise your blood pressure, cause gastrointestinal irritation and trigger jitters or tremors. This is why many people experience shaking after drinking coffee. A December 2015 study published in the Journal of Psychology noted caffeine consumption may play a role in the onset of stress, anxiety and depression in middle and high school students.
Other common side effects include increased heartbeat, restlessness, anxiety, sweating, trembling and shortness of breath. To get rid of shaking after one cup of coffee, try drinking water to flush it out from your system at a faster rate.
Read more: Long-Term Effects of Caffeine
Cutting Back on Caffeine
If you experience shaking after drinking coffee and other beverages containing this substance, it may be time to cut back. Pregnant, children and people taking certain medications may need to quit caffeine altogether.
Keep in mind that caffeine is a stimulant, so you may experience withdrawal symptoms. It's always better to cut back gradually rather than all at once. Some tips for cutting back include:
- If you consume coffee every day, try switching to beverages with lower caffeine content, such as black tea.
- If you're feeling restless at night, opt out of the 3 p.m. pick-me-up coffee and stick to one or two cups in the morning. Remember, caffeine still stays in your system up to six hours after consumption.
- Try switching to decaffeinated coffee or tea. Beware, though — "decaf" doesn't mean caffeine-free.
- Go to sleep earlier than usual so that you are more focused and refreshed in the morning without caffeine.
- Exercise in the morning to feel more awake and energized before a long day.
- U.S. National Library of Medicine: "Caffeine"
- U.S. Food and Drug Administration: "Spilling the Beans: How Much Caffeine is Too Much?
- Cleveland Clinic: "Caffeine: Tips for Breaking the Habit"
- American Psychological Association: "Too Much Coffee?"
- Journal of Psychology: "Caffeine Consumption and Self-Assessed Stress, Anxiety, and Depression in Secondary School Children"
- USDA: "Beverages, Tea, Black, Brewed, Prepared With Tap Water"
- USDA 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans: "Caffeine"