Why Does Drinking Coffee Make Me Feel More Tired? Dietitians Explain the “Caffeine Crash”


Many people drink coffee for the caffeine boost that helps them feel more awake, but have you ever finished your cup of joe and actually experienced the opposite effect, feeling more tired? POPSUGAR reached out to two registered dietitians to find out why, and what you can do in the morning to feel more energetic.

Why Does Drinking Coffee Make Me Feel More Tired?

Caffeine is a stimulant, as in it increases activity in your brain and nervous system, explained Clara Nosek, MS, RDN. Caffeine can affect individuals in different ways and people can experience a caffeine crash. This can be caused by things like how much (or how little) sleep you got the night before, your current level of anxiety, if you ate enough, sugar intake, and if you’ve had enough water to drink.

The phenomenon of the caffeine crash could also be caused by the blockage of a molecule called adenosine that occurs in the body to make you sleepy, explained Sarah Muhammad, RD. “When you consume the caffeine, it binds to the adenosine receptors in your brain, thereby blocking the function temporarily. Once the caffeine wears off though, all of that built-up adenosine will perform its original function, giving the crash effect.”

How Can a Person Drink Coffee Without Feeling Tired?

Make sure to drink equal parts plain water for every cup of coffee you have, as adequate hydration can prevent you from fatigue, Muhammad said. Also, what you put in your coffee can affect your energy. If you add extra sugar (including white sugar, pumps of syrup, or sweetened creamers), it could affect your blood sugar and insulin levels. Excess sugar may cause an increase in insulin and subsequently a sugar crash. Zero-sugar sweeteners like stevia and monk fruit can be a good alternative.

The use of dairy products could also have an effect, as dairy contains tryptophan, an amino acid has been linked to sleepiness, said Muhammad, so you could try nondairy creamers like soy, almond, oat, or coconut instead. And to cut down on the added sugar, choose dairy or nondairy products that are unsweetened.

What Are Some Natural Ways to Feel More Awake in the Morning?

A natural way to feel more awake in the morning would be to really hone in on your bedtime ritual the night before, said Nosek. Sleep hygiene is really important and we don’t talk about it enough. Make sure you’re getting six to eight hours of restful sleep with minimal interruptions. Limit blue light up to an hour before bed, and sleep in a room that has windows with good natural light, or purchase light clocks or lamps to simulate the effects of natural sunlight in the morning.

Caffeine can also disrupt your sleep cycle if you don’t time it right, said Muhammad. “It’s recommended that you don’t consume caffeine six hours before your bedtime in order for your body to be able to naturally wind down, and for you to get quality sleep.”

Coffee can be great for many people. But if you notice that you are caffeine sensitive or that you have become more caffeine sensitive over time, Muhammad said try reducing your caffeine intake by choosing a low-caffeine coffee, or switch to other caffeine sources such as matcha to see what works best with your body.

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