Why Does Coffee Make me Sleepy?

If there’s one thing that the world can agree on, it’s that a cup of coffee in the morning is the ideal way to wake up.
Known as one of the most ingested stimulants and the quickest way to get a boost of natural energy, for most people coffee is a way to perk up, but what if it’s started having the opposite effect?
Coffee contains caffeine which is a known stimulant, but if you’re finding that you’re getting tired instead of alert from your daily cup, it’s not so much about the coffee but rather what it’s doing to your body. If you’re yearning for the days when your coffee gave you energy instead of draining it, there are some ways you can reverse this negative effect.
So, why does coffee make you sleepy?
There are a few reasons why you might be feeling tired rather than energetic after a coffee, including a change in the chemicals in your nervous system, the sugar content in your coffee, or the fact that it’s a diuretic. Establishing which of these is making you tired can help you get the much-needed energy boost back again.
If you’re finding that your morning cup of joe is having an adverse effect, you’ll need to do some detective work to get to the source. With our help, we’ll show you the most common reasons why coffee might be making it sleepy so you can get back your

Isn’t Caffeine a Stimulant?

morning stimulation with coffee
The key ingredient in coffee that helps perk us up is caffeine, so if it’s plentiful in our favorite drink, why are we feeling tired?
A standard cup of coffee has between 80 to 100 milligrams of caffeine in it, and it’s safe to drink up to four cups a day for most people, but it might not always feel like it’s working.
Coffee stimulates our central nervous system which gives us an almost immediate feeling of energy after we drink it.
However, it affects each of us differently, with some requiring more caffeine than others to feel this boost of energy and others getting a range of negative side effects like anxiety and a racing heart, rather than feeling perky.
This stimulant can be experienced differently by everyone, and after time you might find that your regular coffee schedule is failing to keep you alert, but rather making you tired instead.
What you need is a reboot of your caffeine intake and to look at some of the other causes that could be leading to this reverse effect.

Why Does Coffee Make Me Sleepy?

sleepy man
It’s completely normal for people to find that their coffee isn’t working for them the way it used to, and there are many things that can lead to this.
What’s important to note is that it’s not usually the coffee that’s doing it, but rather how your body is reacting to the caffeine content that means you’re not getting your typical boost of energy, and these are some of the common reasons.

You’ve Built Up a Tolerance

There are mixed theories about the body’s ability to build up a tolerance to coffee, but if you ask people you know, you’ll likely find that over the years the amount of coffee they drink each day has increased.
As caffeine blocks receptors that stop us from feeling tired, it then creates more to counteract it, which means you might need more to get the same results.
One study found that the effects of drinking regular caffeine in a group of 11 adults had decreased after 15 days of continuous use, which indicates that it might be possible to build up a tolerance to the stimulant.
However, other studies have shown this constant exposure to caffeine does not affect how the body absorbs it, so there’s still no definitive answer.

Coffee is a Diuretic

Have you ever noticed how a cup of coffee or a can of cola makes you want to head to the toilet shortly after?
The reason for this, and why coffee is making you tired, is because caffeine is a known diuretic. A diuretic is something that makes you urinate more frequently, and if you’re finding that you have to visit the bathroom a lot after, this could have something to do with it.
The fact that you’re urinating a lot in itself isn’t making you tired, but the possibility of being dehydrated from it.
This can affect the body and make you feel sluggish so unless you’re counteracting it with the recommended amount of water for your physical status, you could be feeling it more dramatically.

There Are Too Many Sweeteners

If you’re someone who likes their coffee sweet and always adds sugar to their morning drink, it could be the sugar to blame and not the caffeine.
This goes for all types like syrup, sugar, and whipped cream, and even some forms of artificial sweetener substances.
The body metabolizes sugar faster than it does caffeine, so when the initial rush from the sweeteners wears out, you could be feeling tired from a crash.
This usually happens 90 minutes or so after you drink it, so keep an eye out for when you start to feel low on energy.

Your Brain Receptors Have Been Altered

A brain chemical called adenosine might be to blame for your sleepy coffee issue, and this one, in particular, is known for affecting the sleep-wake cycle we all have.
When we’re awake, the levels of adenosine increase, and then wear off again as we get ready to sleep. The molecules of adenosine bind to receptors in the brain which helps prepare us for bed, but when we drink coffee, they’re not able to do so.
When we drink a cup of coffee, the caffeine is quickly absorbed by our bodies, usually within 45 minutes of ingesting it. When it’s been completely metabolized, the effects of the caffeine wear off, and these receptors can work properly again which leads to an immediate feeling of being tired.

Ways to Fix Your Tired Coffee Problem

tired woman after cup of coffee
If your morning coffee is no longer giving you the kick you need, it’s time to put on your detective hat and look for the problem.
These are some simple changes you make that will get you out of your low energy slump and keep you alert throughout the day.

  • Aim for between seven to nine hours of sleep each night. It could be that you’re lacking in sleep or drinking caffeine too close to bedtime to get the hours that you need.
  • Reduce your caffeine intake to a safer level of two cups a day maximum, if you believe that your body has started to build up a tolerance. At first, you may experience withdrawals, but it will only last for a week or two.
  • Look at your sugar levels and nutrition, especially when it comes to the sweeteners that you might be adding to your morning coffee.
  • Increase your water intake to the recommended amount for your weight and gender. According to the experts, men should aim for 15.5 cups a day and women 11.5 cups a day as an average.

Related Questions

Coffee is the preferred method of getting an energy boost for most people, but when it no longer offers the kick it once did, you may need to explore further.
We’ve answered some FAQs about coffee and caffeine to give you some insight into what it could be doing to your body.

Is Caffeine Bad For Your Heart?

There have been numerous studies conducted on the link between coffee and heart disease, but as of yet, nothing is conclusive.
According to the American Heart Association, drinking two cups of coffee a day is safe and should have no adverse effects on your heart, but if you do experience side effects it could be the caffeine to blame.

Does Caffeine Affect Your Sleep?

Most people know not to drink coffee too close to bedtime as it can impact your ability to naturally doze off to sleep.
The average time it takes for caffeine to leave the system is between three to seven hours for an adult, so you should aim to not drink coffee in these hours leading up to sleep.

Can You Flush Out Caffeine?

If you’re hoping to get rid of the effects of caffeine in a hurry, you can try drinking more water, doing some light exercise, or eating food to help move things along.
However, time is usually the only definite way that you can flush caffeine out of your system effectively.