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Why Does Coffee Make Me Sleepy?

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Coffee is the second most consumed beverage that is consumed worldwide, next to water. The primary reason why people drink coffee is to boost their energy and make them feel refreshed. The secret to this energy-boosting drink Is the caffeine present in coffee. But did you know that for some people, coffee has the opposite effect, and instead of being energized, people feel lethargic and fatigued. This has left many people asking why does coffee make me sleepy?

When it comes to coffee consumption, there are a number of beneficial health effects that are associated, some of which are beneficial when working out too, which you can read about here. There are also some negative effects that coffee brings about and one is making people tired. 

There is no definitive answer to coffee-related health questions on the internet, only guidance. You should always consult with a health professional before acting on any advice on the internet. Every individual body is different and coffee/caffeine will affect people in different ways. 

There are numerous answers to why does caffeine make me tired, but first, you have to know and understand coffee and the caffeine it contains.  

What Does Caffeine Do to Your Body?

Caffeine, the main ingredient of coffee, is a stimulant for the body. When you consume coffee, the caffeine increases activity in the brain and nervous system. This causes a rise in energy and alertness, which is why coffee is generally consumed when people are tired.

According to Ann Pietrangelo, in her article The Effects of Caffeine on Your Body, caffeine present in coffee is known as a stimulant, this means that it boosts your central nervous system and helps you feel energized and more focused. 

Aside from getting that well-needed energy boost, caffeine also helps prevent some degenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s, helps in reducing weight, and provides antioxidants. As mentioned above, there are many health benefits of coffee, but also some negative effects.

How Long Does It Take for the Caffeine in Coffee to Take Effect?

It takes a long time for coffee to be processed by your body, the caffeine in coffee will mostly take effect at least 40 minutes. You will feel the surge of energy for at least 3 hours before the effect fades.

This is the reason why most people prefer to drink their last cup before sunset in order to avoid a sleepless night. Although, in some instances, even people that consume coffee 6 hours before sleep, still have the effects of caffeine when they go to bed. Whilst on the other hand, some people can drink a full cup right before they sleep, and sleep just fine.

Why Does Coffee Make Me Sleepy

Coffee makes you sleepy for a number of different reasons. These include increased tolerance to caffeine, the sugar present in the drink, and even dehydration caused by caffeine consumption. 

You can try to test some of these reasons by eliminating certain ingredients from your drink and cutting down on the amount consumed. Ultimately, if you are concerned about the cause of why coffee makes you sleepy, talk to a professional.

Why Does Coffee Make Me Tired – 7 Main Reasons

1. Some Avid Coffee Drinkers Build Tolerance to Caffeine 

When you consume coffee regularly, you become more immune to the effects of caffeine. This is not just coffee, if you consume multiple caffeinated beverages, your caffeine consumption will be even higher.

This means that in order for you to feel the same caffeine effects, you need to consume higher doses of it. This is the same for any kind of beverage that contains caffeine. You should be careful when increasing caffeine intake as it can be bad for your body. 

The best way to reduce your caffeine tolerance is to slowly reduce your coffee consumption according to Claire Gillespie, in her article Here’s How You Can Tell If You’ve Built up a Caffeine Tolerance—and How to Get That Buzz Back.

There is also research out there that claims regular caffeine consumption does not actually build any tolerance. Still, everyone’s body is different, you can still try to reduce your caffeine consumption to see if it has an effect.  

Building up a tolerance to caffeine is one of the main reasons associated with the question of why does coffee make me sleepy?

2. The Caffeine in Coffee Blocks Adenosine 

Dr. Ananya Mandal, MD stated that adenosine is a chemical component in the brain that is responsible for making you sleepy. By the time you wake up, the adenosine starts to work, and every hour the adenosine level increases until it reaches a peak, and you’re on your way to another great slumber.  

What happens is that the caffeine blocks the effects of adenosine, which results in you feeling more energized and awake. As the caffeine effects wear off, the buildup of adenosine will hit in an instant which will then result in a feeling of drowsiness. 

It all depends on how long the caffeine effects take to cycle through your system. If you drink one coffee in the morning, you might find by mid-morning or lunchtime that you start to feel drowsy. That’s why people who document their journey of cutting caffeine out of their diet say that they feel more energized and awake.

If you drink multiple cups of coffee throughout the day, you might find once you finish the last cup and the caffeine wears off, you just crash. All because of the adenosine build-up. 

3. Sugar Can Actually Be The Cause

Consuming sugar-based ingredients such as sugar, sweetener, honey, creams, and syrups in your coffee could be the reason you feel so sleepy. This is commonly referred to as a sugar crash, where the blood sugar levels rise and fall. 

According to this study it is actually suggested that caffeine causes an effect on blood sugar levels. Combine this with added sugar and you will find a huge energy high followed by a crash where you feel tired and sleepy. 

If you’re the kind of coffee drinker who loves to add sugar to the blend, then you probably have to blame the sugar for your sleepiness and not the coffee. When it comes to processing sugar, your body will break it down faster than caffeine. Once the sugar is consumed by your body, you probably will feel tired and sleepy. How fast the sugar crash happens depends on the person consuming the sweetened coffee. 

You can try eliminating sugar and other ingredients from your coffee, but the chances are you probably prefer the sweeter taste of coffee rather than the original bitter taste. Remember that milk contains natural sugars too. 

4. Too Much Coffee Causes Dehydration

Coffee is a well-known diuretic and increases the frequency that you have to urinate. This can lead to dehydration for the body, as when you urinate, you lose water. Ultimately, leading to sleepiness and a tired feeling.

Claire Gillespi, in her article Why Does Coffee Make Me Tired?, stated that “Caffeine has been considered a diuretic for years”. A diuretic is a substance that will help increase urine production. The caffeine present in coffee is known to be a diuretic, this means that the more you consume coffee, the more that you will need to visit the bathroom. 

When this happens, your body will lose not only salt content, but also water. If you don’t properly hydrate, then you’re going to feel tired, confused, and experience dry mouth and skin. The more you drink coffee, the increased chances of this effect will be.

In order to prevent getting tired from being dehydrated, make sure that you drink enough water to support your body. The recommended number of glasses per day is at least 8.

5. Your Cup of Coffee Might Be Contaminated with Mold

You may not know this, but some coffee can be contaminated by mycotoxins which are produced by mold spores. According to Real Time Laboratories Inc., Ochratochin A, a type of mycotoxin, is associated with a decrease In dopamine which leads to depression and extreme fatigue. 

Although molds and mycotoxins seem gross and bad for your health, most mycotoxin contamination in coffee is only below the safety level which means it won’t have any adverse effects on you. 

This one is a very far-fetched answer to why does coffee make me sleepy? But in some instances, it could be a cause. 

6: You Are Built Differently

Your body is completely different from every other body in the world. Therefore, your reaction to caffeine can be different from other people’s. The only way to truly identify causes of sleepiness would be to implement multiple life changes and undergo tests. 

If you have tried everything and can’t find the cause related to coffee, it could be something else causing your sleepiness. But sometimes, you will just have to accept it and continue your life as normal.

7: Giving Up on Coffee Can Cause Sleepiness

When you stop consuming caffeine, the body starts to enter a withdrawal phase. Your body would have become dependent on caffeine and expects it on a daily basis. Removing this will cause headaches, confusion, and fatigue.

Whilst it is not directly related to drinking coffee, it can still be a cause of sleepiness related to coffee. However, if you get these symptoms, fight through them as they can take up to 2 weeks to completely leave the body.

Key Take Away

There are a number of answers to the question of why does coffee make me sleepy? Ultimately, it can be difficult to pinpoint and could be something related to your lifestyle rather than the coffee itself. 

Try to eliminate sugar, reduce your caffeine intake, and drink at different times of the day to see how your body reacts. You can also try eliminating coffee altogether or switching to decaf.

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