Can Coffee Make You Sleepy? - Avoid the Caffeine Crash

Most people drink coffee to wake them up, so it’s surprising when you start to feel sleepy soon after your morning cup. If you’ve ever experienced this, you might be wondering, can coffee make you sleepy?

If you feel tired after drinking coffee, there’s normally a reason why. You’ll find out why coffee makes you tired in this article, as well as how to prevent any caffeine crashes in the future.

Why Can Coffee Make You Feel Tired?

Coffee contains caffeine, a chemical that blocks adenosine receptors in the brain that are responsible for sleepiness. Sometimes, caffeine can work more effectively than desired, causing a caffeine crash. There are a few reasons why caffeine can cause sleepiness.

Caffeine Affects Stress Levels

Caffeine and coffee can raise your stress level, but later you are tired; stressed looking man drinking coffee

As you drink coffee, caffeine enters your system, but it can also increase levels of cortisol. When this stress hormone is raised, the body can feel anxious and stressed, which can keep you awake. Anxiety can make you feel on edge, but as the day goes on, you can feel tired as these feelings subside.

Caffeine Blocks Adenosine

As stated above, adenosine is responsible for making you feel tired. The body creates this substance naturally. When you drink coffee, caffeine attaches itself to adenosine receptors as it reaches the brain.

Caffeine may initially block adenosine, but as it wears off, adenosine starts to build up again. These levels of adenosine can be higher than the body can handle, so you can feel even more tired than usual.

Caffeine Tolerance

Like anything, once you start consuming caffeine regularly, you start to build up a tolerance to it. Drinking coffee everyday blocks adenosine’s effects on a regular basis. Your body may then start to create more adenosine receptors as a consequence.

Once your system creates more adenosine receptors, the same amount of caffeine that you usually consume won’t have the same effect. Those with a high caffeine tolerance will need more cups of coffee to keep awake.

Sweeteners On Blood Sugar

This isn’t much of a problem for black coffee drinkers, but if you add sugar or sweeteners to your cup, these could be causing more harm than the caffeine.

Sweeteners like sugar have a negative effect on your blood sugar; sugar being poured into cup of coffee

Sugar, syrup, honey, or artificial sweeteners may cause a sugar crash. Your body starts to produce more insulin as a response to sugar in the system. Insulin reduces blood glucose levels, causing low blood sugar. Sugar crashes can make you feel anxious, hungry, and tired.

If you’re feeling tired after a cup of coffee, try removing sugar or sweeteners and see if it makes a difference. If you’re still feeling tired, it may be the caffeine instead of sugar, and vice versa.

Dairy Tolerance

Most people have heard that warm milk before bed can make you sleepy. This is because dairy contains tryptophan, a protein that can help you relax and fall asleep. Tryptophan can be great to have at night, but it can be the last thing you want in the morning when you’re trying to stay awake.

Tryptophan can make you feel sleepy, but milk only contains a small amount of it. There’s only a small chance that dairy could be making you sleepy. If you suspect dairy may be the issue, switch to black coffee or plant-based milk for a while, and see if you start feeling more alert.

Dehydration From Caffeine

If you feel like you need to go to the toilet soon after drinking coffee, you’re not alone. Caffeine is a diuretic, so it flushes water and salt out of your system. If you don’t replace the fluids that your body has lost, you can become dehydrated. Side effects of dehydration include thirst, dry mouth, and tiredness.

As dehydration can cause fatigue, it's important to drink plenty of water along with your coffee. Adults should drink anywhere from 92 and 124 ounces of water each day, though this depends on your gender, height, and weight.

Mold In Coffee

It’s horrible to think about, but coffee contaminated with mold could be why you’re feeling sleepy. Various coffee beans may have mycotoxins, a mold species that is known to cause tiredness.

Mold within coffee has more serious effects than just tiredness. Research has shown that exposure to mold can cause tumors to grow on the kidneys and liver. These types of mold may also be carcinogenic, meaning that they can increase the risk of cancer.

How To Prevent Coffee Induced Tiredness

We’ve covered some reasons why coffee may be making you feel tired. Keep reading to find out how to keep enjoying your regular cup without feeling sleepy.

Time Your Coffee Intake

Research shows that drinking coffee six hours before bedtime can interrupt your sleep. To avoid this, try timing when you drink coffee. Keep caffeinated drinks to the morning and switch to decaf in the afternoon. You can also try implementing foods that promote sleep in the evening, like warm milk, bananas, or almonds.

Get A Good Amount Of Sleep

Caffeine may make you feel awake, but this is only temporary. If you still feel tired after a cup of coffee, this may be due to a lack of sleep. Try going to bed earlier, sleeping for longer periods, or improving your sleep hygiene to see if this improves your quality of sleep.

Reduce Sugar Intake

We’ve covered why sugar crashes can make you feel more tired. It may be easy to cut back if you’re making your coffee at home, but ones from cafes and stores can be laden with added sugar. Coming down from both sugar and caffeine highs can make you feel fatigued. Try removing sugar, honey, and syrups from your coffee and see how you feel in the coming days.

Keep Hydrated

Caffeine is a diuretic, so it removes a lot of water and salt from your system. To prevent your body from becoming dehydrated, it's important to drink enough fluids. For every cup of coffee that you consume, try drinking one glass of water.

In Summary

Thanks to the caffeine within, coffee can make you feel awake, alert, and refreshed. Nevertheless, you can feel more tired once the caffeine starts to wear off. Other additives, like sugar and dairy, can also make you feel sleepy. To minimize potential fatigue, try consuming caffeine in the morning, then switching to decaf later. Cut back on your sugar intake and be sure to stay hydrated. These can all help manage the side effects of caffeine consumption.