Reasons Why Coffee Can Make You Sleepy (It’s More Than Just Caffeine)

We all take coffee as a morning refreshment to jump-start our workday, and it doesn’t feel right until we do so. But for many people, even coffee lovers, coffee can do the exact opposite of …

Reasons Why Coffee Can Make You Sleepy (It's More Than Just Caffeine) Cover Image

We all take coffee as a morning refreshment to jump-start our workday, and it doesn’t feel right until we do so. But for many people, even coffee lovers, coffee can do the exact opposite of picking them up: it knocks them down with a “caffeine crash.” Though you can get over it by blaming the coffee for being bad, there’s much more to it. So today, let’s look at why coffee can make you sleepy when it should be energizing you instead.

Caffeine Crash Or Lack Of Sleep Image

10 Reasons Why Coffee Can Make You Sleepy

The phenomenon of coming down with a dizzy, tired feeling instead of feeling the rush from a cup of coffee is called “caffeine crash .”However, when coffee or coffee-based energy drinks pick you up and make you do stuff, it’s called “caffeine rush.”

If you’re a person who’s facing multiple crashes recently, there are quite a few reasons behind it. Let’s shortlist why coffee makes you tired first, then go through them in detail.

  • Coffee Blocks Your Adenosine
  • You’re Sleep Deprived
  • You’re Suffering From Diuretic Effects
  • Your Caffeine Tolerance Is Higher Than You Expected
  • It’s In Your Genes
  • You’re Drinking Your Coffee Extra Sweet
  • Maybe It’s The Dairy Elements
  • Or Maybe It’s Mold (Ew)
  • You’re More Stressed From Caffeine Intake
  • You’re Going Through Caffeine Withdrawal

Reason #1: Coffee Blocks Your Adenosine

Right after you drink a cup of coffee, it goes to your stomach and gets distributed to different parts of your body via the bloodstream, which includes the bran.

When caffeine reaches the brain, it blocks your adenosine receptors. Adenosine is the chemical that indicates the brain you’re tired by sticking to your brain more and more throughout the day. That way, adenosine is also controlling your sleep-wake cycle.

Coffee disrupts the reception of adenosine by your brain, tricking your brain into thinking you’re not tired enough and keep going. But caffeine only stops the adenosine from hitting your brain, not from producing.

The more you drink coffee throughout the day, the higher your adenosine levels keep rising. The moment the caffeine wears off, it all hits you like a train.

Tired Brain Vs Adenosine Image

When too much adenosine hits your brain at the same time, you feel like you’ve worked way too hard all day long, and you need to go to sleep right away.

Reason #2: You’re Sleep Deprived

Coffee consumption can keep you up and help you focus, but still, it is not as good as getting a good night’s rest. At least seven hours of sleep is recommended for adults over every night.

When you’re sleep-deprived, it’ll automatically reduce your alertness, slow your responses, and cause lapses in your judgment by affecting how you think.

When you drink coffee to make up for your sleepiness, you’ll only feel more tired the next day instead of filling the sleep meter back up. And when you feel more tired, you’ll start taking more coffee, and the cycle continues.

At one point, the coffee will stop working altogether, and you’ll continue to feel sleepy no matter how much coffee you drink.

Reason #3: You’re Suffering From Diuretic Effects

Coffee has been proved to be a diuretic, meaning it’s a drink that’ll make you run to the bathroom more often.

On Your Way To The Restroom Image

If you keep your coffee drinking within the safe limits, you will not notice the effects. However, if you start taking more than three cups of coffee to get through crunch week, you will frequently visit the restroom in your office.

And, of course, going through the natural process of relieving yourself causes you to lose fluids from the body.

You’re already dehydrated when you’re drinking more coffee and less water. Add that to the dehydration from the restroom parades, and you can see why you’re feeling more sleepy than usual.

Along with sleepiness, you’ll encounter other symptoms of dehydration such as:

  • Lack of sweat
  • Dry skin
  • Dry mouth
  • Dizzy feeling
  • Rapid breathing
  • Fainting
  • Sped-up heart rate
  • Confusion
  • Shock

If you face any of these symptoms, please consult a medical professional immediately.

Though coffee may not dehydrate you as much as you think. As you know, coffee contains equal amounts, or sometimes a higher portion of water than coffee.

Even when the coffee intake is dehydrating you, the water also supplies you with the fluid you need. But to be on the safe side, drink lots of water anyway.

Having fun with coffee can make you sleepy?

Check out our piece and learn how to fall asleep after drinking coffee.

Reason #4: Your Caffeine Tolerance Is Higher Than You Expected

If you’re a coffee enthusiast, you’re sure to drink coffee every day, multiple times, and you’ve been doing it for a while.

There’s a high chance that your coffee routine has given you a higher tolerance to caffeine. Meaning coffee doesn’t affect you as much as you expected it to.

So, instead of feeling joy and rushing from the fine drink, you continue to slog through your day like a zombie.

Reason #5: It’s In Your Genes

Though it’s a fully proven theory, several researchers have found that your genetics play a big part in deciding how you’ll react to caffeine.

Specific gene types make certain people more sensitive to caffeine, while others can entirely neglect how coffee affects them. But if you’re in the first category, you’ll feel more sleepy because coffee frequently disrupts your sleep, and you need to make up for it.

Reason #6: You’re Drinking Your Coffee Extra Sweet

Whenever you drink coffee with a sweetener included, such as:

  • Honey
  • Sugar
  • Different kinds of syrups
  • Whipped Cream

It increases the amount of glucose you have in your blood. When you take in more glucose than you’re supposed to, your body starts producing insulin to balance your blood sugar levels. The more sugar you consume, the more insulin your body produces.

At the same time, your blood sugar is also the primary source of your energy. So when you’re taking in the extra energy, and suddenly the energy drops down to lower levels, you’ll naturally feel more tired and dizzy.

It’s not just about the sugar in your drink, either. For example, if you’re taking light snacks with your coffee, you can also feel the sugar rush at first and sugar crash after your blood glucose level drops suddenly.

When The Sugar Rush Kicks In Image

Reason #7: Maybe It’s The Dairy Elements

The dairy elements, like milk or cream made out of milk, can make you sleepy. But how?

Dairy products carry an amino acid named “tryptophan,” which promotes sleepiness in your brain. Now that you think about it, drinking a glass of milk before sleep makes more sense, huh?

Though drinking milk before bedtime can sound perfectly reasonable and helpful, it can be just as bad when you’re mixing it with your morning coffee.

The chances of you feeling tired from milk are pretty low since milk contains tiny amounts of tryptophan. But it’s still there, and that’s something you need to look out for.

Reason #8: Or Maybe It’s Mold (Ew)

We can’t help but squirm even when talking about this point, but it’s a fact that molds in coffee can make you sleepy, you will feel extra drowsy throughout the day. Coffee mold is very real, and it can ruin your day by entering your body when you drink it.

Nope Nope Image

When you don’t store your coffee beans properly or put them in a container or storage that has moisture in it, the unroasted coffee beans can come in contact with open-air and humidity and can create a layer of mold over the coffee.

The coffee mold contains mycotoxins, which sounds terrible just from the name alone. Exposure to mycotoxins can have several symptoms, such as:

  • Tiredness even after resting
  • Dizziness
  • Frequent interruptions in thought processing
  • Difficulty in concentrating
  • Difficulty in falling asleep

Reason #9: You’re More Stressed From Caffeine Intake

Stress is a terrible enemy for both the mind and body that can quickly take away your rest. A prevalent symptom of stress is feeling sleepy since your brain needs rest to process the emotional memories and everything going on up there.

The hormone that raises stress in your brain is called “Cortisol .”When cortisol stresses the brain, the body starts releasing Adrenaline as a response. A common effect of Adrenaline is when you feel your heartbeat rise along with blood pressure, and you begin taking faster breaths.

When you take coffee, the amount of both cortisol and adrenaline doubles in your body, as proved in a study back in 2017. So, in simple terms: it increases your stress even more.

And when you’re stressed, you’re bound to feel more and more sleepy throughout the day whenever you drink coffee. When the stress response from the coffee goes away, all you will feel is the desire to find a surface to sleep on.

Reason #10: You’re Going Through Caffeine Withdrawal

If you’re scared about the negatives of caffeine and have stopped taking coffee altogether, you’ll start feeling sleepy. This is a scenario where the lack of coffee makes you tired, rather than the coffee itself.

When your body is used to frequent caffeine intake, and then you stop drinking coffee out of nowhere, your body starts feeling caffeine withdrawal effects.

Coffee withdrawal can set in within 12-24 hours after you stop drinking coffee. If you were a heavy coffee drinker, these symptoms could last for as long as a couple of weeks.

When Caffeine Withdrawal Hits Image

One of the major symptoms of coffee withdrawal is sleepiness. When your body is constantly used to relying on a substance for energy, when you take the energy away, it feels even more tired than usual, making you feel sleepy.

If you’re really determined to quit coffee altogether, we suggest taking a slow and methodical approach.

How to Maximize the Benefits of Coffee

If you don’t want your coffee to doom you to a tired feeling throughout the day, here are 5 tips you can follow five tips to get the most out of your morning coffee.

Tip #1: Sleep More, Drink Less

As we mentioned earlier, caffeine can be an excellent booster for your energy levels, but it still cannot fulfill the loss of a deep sleep overnight.

When you fix your sleep schedule and improve your sleep quality, you’ll find coffee more effective than you usually do.

Tip #2: Schedule Your Coffee

It’s best not to drink coffee whenever you feel like it since overloading yourself with caffeine can do you more harm than good. Drinking your coffee at exact hours and avoiding coffee a few hours before bedtime can work wonders.

We may sound like a broken recorder, but it’s for your own good: Daily safe amount is 400 mg of coffee per day, and don’t drink coffee six hours before bed. Add that note to your daily routines.

Tip #3: Skip The Sugar Whenever Possible

There’s a safe limit to how much sugar you can intake every day before it starts giving you the sugar crash effect. So to minimize sugar intake, skip the sugar on your coffee whenever you can. Also, avoiding sugary drinks on a daily basis will help you a lot over time.

Caffeine disrupts the body’s system to counteract sugar adequately, so the best way to go here is if you can get used to black coffee.

Tip #4: Keep Yourself Hydrated

Even when we say coffee doesn’t dehydrate you as much, you still need to be mindful about drinking plenty of water throughout the day.

If you’re someone who casually drinks coffee, this applies to you even more. Coffee can dehydrate you faster than someone who is used to coffee, and it’s best to drink sufficient water to counter it.

Tip #5: Always Pair Your Coffee With A Meal

Drinking coffee on an empty stomach throws your entire digestive system off balance. If you don’t want to feel drowsy throughout the day, consider taking coffee only when you take your breakfast or any other meal.

When you pair coffee with food, your body can sustain the level of energy granted by coffee instead of making you feel rushed for an hour then bringing you down.

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You’ll love to read our piece on does coffee have carbs?

Bottom Line

Coffee is a drink that can both pick you up and bring you down instantly. With carefulness and timing, you can avoid the negatives of drinking coffee and get the best out of your morning cup.

If you’re already following these steps and leading a healthy lifestyle, don’t be afraid to take your morning coffee. But, instead, enjoy and savor every sip of it.



How Late Is Too Late to Drink Caffeine?

It’s best not to drink coffee after the evening, as it can interfere with your sleep schedule by preventing you from falling asleep.

What Is a Caffeine Crash?

A caffeine crash is when the effect of the caffeine content wears off, and you feel all the tiredness you’ve been trying to avoid hitting you at the same time, making you highly exhausted.

When Does the Caffeine Start Wearing Off?

Depending on how strong your metabolism is, caffeine can start wearing off as soon as 2 hours after drinking coffee, or it can stay around for the whole day if you’re sensitive to caffeine.

What Is Caffeine Withdrawal?

Caffeine withdrawal is when you stop caffeine consumption altogether and your body tries to adjust to a new routine entirely while creating physical symptoms and issues.

Can a High Caffeine Tolerance Be Natural?

Yes, it can. Genetics can decide if someone will be more tolerant of a caffeinated beverage. This makes some people more resistant to the effects of coffee while making others highly sensitive.